Trinity 9: Rituals and Observances 1
Summary: Finding an ancient people along with some inner revelations by the team and their translator.
Special Note: Asatay is pronounced, Ah-sah-tay.
Warnings: Het sex. No, not da boys.
[ continuing directly from Trinity 8 ]
Daniel had no idea what to say but just as he started to try and say something, the Stargate powered up. Jack and his team watched the alien group move back, seemingly alarmed, but noted that the people were curiously unafraid. A few men and women from the periphery of the group suddenly brought out tiny hunting-type bows that were strapped over their wrists. Jack thought they looked like a hybrid type of hand-sized crossbows.
“Heads up, folks.”
Daniel schooled his features to peaceful and put out his hands, stepping in front of the one nearest him, blocking the arrow’s path to the gate. “No!” and he shook his head. He hadn’t drawn his weapon, and had instead, used his body as a shield.
“Daniel, damn it,” Jack hissed, hating it when Daniel did things like that.
Daniel turned to look at him, trying to keep his expression non-threatening for the aliens. “You’d do it, Jack.”
Jack conceded that, knowing Daniel was right. He made a tolerating growling noise that let Daniel know he agreed with him but didn’t like it. Sam and Teal’c preferred to remain quiet, keeping their weapons trained on the armed aliens, but their aim low. They didn’t want to hurt these people.
Jason suddenly came through the gate, with field vest only, with a cylindrical carrying case strapped to his back. Taking in the group of people some 30 feet in front of SG-1, and immediately spotting those with weapons, he dropped to one knee and panned his P-90 carefully. His intuition told him that this wasn’t a show of force or threat. It seemed merely defensive, perhaps in reaction to the gate. The group of people in front of SG-1 seemed to be waiting, just as SG-1 was. Only SG-1 was waiting for him.
Daniel stared at the woman who had trained her hand bow at the gate and watched as her brow furrowed in puzzlement as she saw Jason. Her weapon now pointed at the ground and she turned her face to get the attention of the leader. The man looked over, and Daniel watched them trade glances, nodding at the new arrival. The leader then turned to the others who were armed and they also pointed their small hand bows to the ground. The one that Daniel had blocked looked over at him so he gave her a soft smile and a nod. She regarded him carefully but didn’t smile. She did however, nod back. That was a start. Daniel felt a bit of relief for that small gesture, and for the fact that she was careful not to get too friendly too soon. He noted that her appearance was like that of the leader and that her hair was also clasped at the nape of her neck.
Jason noted the movements, the silent exchange of orders, and relaxed his weapon, slowly switching the safety catch on. As SG-1 was the only team there, he took a chance and decided to be a little more casual under the circumstances. “Jack, you guys okay?” he asked as he got up and slowly walked toward them, making sure his weapon pointed at the ground, the same as the alien weapons. Jack turned around and looked at him with that raised brow he assumed when surprised. Jason tilted his head in brief apology.
“It’s just you, Daniel, Sam and Teal’c. I made a risk assessment. Now, what’s up?” and he reached them, touching Jack’s arm. Jack gave him a long-suffering look, one that pretty much said, ‘wait till we get home’. Jason grinned slightly, then Jack held his hand out toward the leader.
“You’re on, Jason.”
Daniel couldn’t help but grin, glancing at Sam and Teal’c who also found that brief exchange funny, and he pressed his lips together to keep his mouth from forming a full-fledged smile. No need to antagonize Jack. He did need to be in charge, because…well…he was. Daniel walked over to Jason and touched the back of his arm briefly.
“Hey,” Jason replied, giving him a warm smile, then nodded at Teal’c and Sam who nodded back. “Well, here goes nothing.” He glanced once more at his friends, Jack last of all, then cleared his throat and walked the twenty or so steps toward the leader, trying to appear as ‘safe’ as he could while armed.
Jason spread his hands out, palm up, showing that he was no threat, then made a short bow while his eyes never left the leader’s. The leader regarded him and Jason felt that he was being assessed. That thought was rather comforting. It meant he was dealing with someone cautious. Jason also felt there was a little bit of humor behind the man’s eyes. He seemed to be observing their behavior, making his mind up about something. Suddenly he took a few steps forward until he was no more than five feet away from Jason and took in Jason’s features carefully, scanning his hair and clothing.
//”Who are you?”// the leader repeated his earlier question.
Jason didn’t understand him at first, and instead made a couple of hand gestures; over his heart, at the team behind him. “Hozo-go,” he said, then turned to Daniel, who was suddenly a step behind his left shoulder. “Peace.”
The leader frowned and turned his head slightly as if straining to hear. He asked Jason a question Jason couldn’t figure out yet. The words sounded familiar. Then Jason’s brow went up in slight recognition and slowly pulled a small notebook out of his pocket and opened it, flipping pages.
“You brought a dictionary?” Jack asked quietly as he walked up behind Jason’s right shoulder. Sam and Teal’c took up flanking positions behind Jack and Daniel.
“I’m not the one with the eidetic memory, Jack,” Jason said with a sarcastic grin as he searched through the tiny booklet.
Daniel snorted as he knew Jason’s remark referred to him. He prudently peered over his shoulder at the small book. “Cool.”
“My dad gave me this a few years ago.” Jason made another gesture, this one at Jack. “Ah-na-ghai,” he said to the leader.
“What–” Jack started to ask.
“Leader, Jack,” Jason told him.
The leader went on to ask another question and Jason placed his palm on his chest, introduced himself by his first name only, then pointed to the members of SG-1, calling them by their first names as well. Teal’c’s tattoo and his weapon were treated with a bit more curiosity, but Jason figured it might be because of Teal’c’s skin color. Though SG-1 was also mostly Caucasian and clearly not of Anasazi descent, Teal’c was obviously different from his teammates. Jason made a sweeping arm gesture to include all of them and said, ‘friend’. The leader, or whomever he was, did the same as Jason and introduced himself as Asatay.
Jason smiled at him, handed his booklet to Daniel, and made a couple of gestures at the Stargate, then said a few of the words he could remember without having to look them up. The leader became a little friendlier, answering Jason, then fielded a few questions back to him that Jason had a bit of difficulty with at first, but as they tried to communicate with each other, Jason was finding it easier. Pieces of his childhood around his grandfather came back and seemed to help somewhat. They traded words for Stargate, visiting, friends, and curiously, a word for family. Jason didn’t know the last one and had to look it up. Asatay asked another question and Jason tried twice to understand but couldn’t get the phonetics down to one of the words. He could see that the leader knew he was trying, so he instead asked, “Ah-na-sozi?” his hand pointing at the leader and his people.
The leader smiled, showing that he recognized the word, then said, “Dineh,” as he motioned at his people.
Jason smiled and pointed to himself and said, “Dinehtah.” The leader smiled and nodded, as if understanding. Jason wasn’t sure, but he believed the leader understood that they came through the stargate from Earth.
Daniel was paying very close attention to what the leader was saying, trying to learn, and his ears perked up when he heard the word for the Navajo nation mentioned over and over again, with a few variations.
“Um, Jason? Dinetah?”
“The Earth People, Daniel.”
Daniel nodded as he looked through Jason’s booklet, marveling as he always did at Jason’s beautiful handwriting. Jason had returned the compliment once, but Daniel liked Jason’s handwriting better. Compared to Jack’s, their handwriting was almost calligraphy. Jack’s handwriting was neat, readable, but somewhat utilitarian. Jack had never wasted time on developing ‘pretty’ penmanship as his practical side never thought it necessary. Daniel knew that Jason had developed his naturally, most likely because his artistic ability gave him the interest to.
Jason watched as Asatay fixed a look at Daniel, so Jason nudged Daniel with his elbow, catching Daniel’s attention. Daniel looked up. He saw Jason smiling, gesturing toward the leader. Daniel looked over at him and saw Asatay’s long gaze on him. The man then pointed to his own onyx-colored eyes, then to Daniel’s, indicating Daniel’s blue eye color, then looked at Jason and shook his head. At first, Jason thought Asatay was referring to Daniel’s glasses, as did Daniel. Daniel removed his glasses, making a gesture that he used them to read with, but Asatay shook his head and pointed to Daniel’s eyes, then his own. Jason understood now and shook his head, then pointed at Sam, gesturing her to come forward. Asatay noticed her color was a muted, more greenish blue, but still…not black or brown. He gave her a curious smile. Sam didn’t know how to take that and looked over at Jason.
“You didn’t just fix me up, did you?”
It took everything Daniel, Jack, and Jason had not to guffaw. Teal’c smirked however, finding her remark humorous, too.
The leader regarded Daniel and Sam a little longer, very curious at the color of their eyes, then motioned to a pendant, or most likely an amulet, around his neck. Asatay held it out away from his chest and pointed to the center stone which had a similar texture to turquoise but was completely sky blue. Jason smiled and nodded as he looked back at Daniel. Daniel frowned a little in that way he had when he became the focus of something he wasn’t clued in on. Jason smiled at him though so he relaxed a little. He wondered why Asatay hadn’t more curiosity about his glasses but he figured he might learn that later.
Asatay then motioned behind him and said a few more words, then waited. Jason smiled, not needing to translate, but searched his mind for the appropriate reply as he glanced over his shoulder at Jack.
“He wants to know if we’d join them in their village, town, whatever.”
Jack looked over at Asatay, who turned and motioned for Jason and SG-1 to follow. Jack sighed, then mumbled, “Oy. This had better turn out okay, Jason, or it’s your ass.”
Daniel snorted and Jack was going to backhand him in the arm but didn’t know how Asatay would take that. Instead, he smiled at the leader then motioned that he lead them on. Asatay grinned and as one, his people safely kept their distance as they ‘escorted’ SG-1 and Jason back the way they’d come.
“What do they want, Jason?” Jack asked as they walked.
“Probably to get to know us, have something to eat, drink, and to get out of the sun.”
“Pretty sure,” Jason said, nodding.
Jack gave Daniel a sarcastic look. “He been taking lessons from you?”
Daniel smiled, then smirked, at him but before he could say anything, Jason answered with a perfectly honed ‘innocent’ expression.
A deep rumble came from somewhere deep in Jack’s throat and he decided at that moment to move to Teal’c’s side while Jason and Daniel smirked at each other and walked slightly ahead of their teammates. Teal’c gave Jack a questioning glance and Jack rolled his eyes, nodding his head in the direction of the two he’d just left.
“I’m in so much trouble, T.”
“You are only just figuring this out, O’Neill?”
Jack knew he was doomed. “Well, you could have warned me,” he grumbled.
One corner of Teal’c’s mouth went up, as did Sam’s.
The buildings on the exterior of the cliffside looked similar to the ruins found on Earth, minus the age and erosion. They also weren’t made of traditional materials, but of a stone likely native to the planet. Sam was taking recordings of it with her handheld registry as they were escorted inside what appeared to be a doorway carved into the massive cliffside. When they entered, they found themselves in a hallway with a high ceiling that opened up into a larger chamber, or hall. Both Jason and Daniel looked at each other, then nodded at the interior decorations of the room, then looked back at the large doorway. Though the ceiling was somewhat domed, the entrance to this cavernous ‘building’ seemed to be facing the planet’s East, as befitting a traditional hogan, or lodge, that the Native Americans of the Southwest used.
The team was led to a long table, already being set for late afternoon meal, decorated with cups, plates, and interesting lamps that held an unknown energy source instead of oil. The leader motioned toward another group of people at the far end of the table. When they reached them, Jason and SG-1 were met with what Asatay said were the elders. They were a group of twelve, each of varying senior age, and only half of them were men. Daniel found that interesting as he tried to remember what the societal structures of the Native American were long ago on Earth.
Asatay spoke to an elder who was clearly not the oldest, and probably the equivalent of a 60 year old man on Earth. He was, however, given obvious deference by the others and Asatay. Jason figured this man to be the chief, or main Elder. The Elder gave SG-1 and Jason assessing stares, then scrutinized Jason most of all. They then went back to discussing amongst themselves.
“Jace, what’s going on?” Jack asked as he walked up behind Jason.
“These appear to be the elders and the head Elder, like a tribal chieftain. He’ll decide if we’re worth greeting properly or not. Asatay is probably what we’d call their 2IC, but as I’ve not been able to figure out the word he’s using, I can’t tell you what his position is.”
Jack shrugged, then patted Jason’s shoulder. “Well, you’re doing fine so keep at it. You’ll get it.”
Jason turned completely and gave Jack a very warm smile of surprise and gratitude. It was rare that he received acknowledgement in the field, or anywhere else for that matter. Leaders were usually given ‘attaboys’ from General Hammond, and sometimes from Jack. Jack seemed to read what was on Jason’s mind, too.
“I may not say it often enough, Jason, but I’m saying now. You do good work, and if this is as important as I think it is, even if it produces nothing but simple knowledge, you’re doing a great job.”
“You’re welcome,” Jack said, giving him a small grin. “Now, you seem to be picking up on the language. Are you, or are you just guessing?”
Jason suddenly felt more than a little out of his league and had an attack of low self-esteem. “Um, a little. It’s not too far removed from ancient dialects I ‘heard’ but wasn’t taught when I was little, hence my little notebook. My grandfather would be a really good liaison here, if he weren’t such a…well, you know…a dick most of the time.”
Jason received understanding smiles from Jack and Daniel, as they’d been privy to a little about his grandfather. Sam and Teal’c had no idea what he was talking about, but they figured they would sooner or later so they refrained from asking. Daniel and Jack then noticed more than a bit of hesitation in Jason’s expression.
“What?” Daniel asked.
“You look like something’s wrong.”
“Well…Just because the SGC contact is military, my grandfather would probably convince these people to cut off all contact with the SGC.”
“Okay,” Daniel drew out. “But that’s not it. What’s wrong?”
“I feel like maybe I’m not the person who should be talking to these people as I don’t know my grandfather’s language and–“
“Jason, you’re doing fine for now. If we establish relations with these people, then Hammond can decide who gets to come here after we’re done.”
Jason nodded, chewing at his lip.
“What else is that matter?” Daniel asked. He knew that there were a lot of things suddenly plaguing Jason at the moment, and they very likely had a lot to do with their presence among the Dineh.
“I’m a bit worried about our presence. Remember those…well…plant people? I read about them when I got to the SGC.”
Daniel rolled his eyes. He’d never forget ‘plant boy’ for as long as he lived. Neither would Jack, who winced and gave yet another silent apology to Daniel about that nickname said in reaction to the frazzled nerves on that mission.
Instead of Daniel or Jack, Sam spoke up. “So you’re afraid that we’re bringing some sort of contamination to these people?”
Jason winced that time. “It wouldn’t be unheard of, Sam. As far as I can remember, any time the US military met up with Native Americans, and for all intents and purposes, that’s what these people are descended from, no good has ever come from it. I’m very reluctant to do anything right now except maybe say hello. I mean, we are medically cleared for the most part, but we have no idea what imbalance outsiders might bring. Harmony and balance are greatly revered to the Native Americans, just as they were with the Anasazi. If someone who isn’t decontaminated, like maybe a liaison like my grandfather, came here to live with these people, we might end up bringing a spore of some plant with us that might harm them.”
Sam thought about that and then shrugged. “We can’t be sure of anything, Jason. If there’s contamination, we could just as easily have brought it with us on our clothing. Nothing is ever truly safe when we come through the gate. Do you want to take a chance here, or are you saying we should turn around and leave?”
Jason was startled at her abrupt, and very clear, question. He glanced at Jack. “I suppose it’d be up to you, but as we’re here already, if any damage is done, it’s done already, as Sam said.”
Suddenly everyone, including Jason, looked at Daniel. “What?”
“You’ve always got an opinion about this sort of thing and you also look like you’re thinking so out with it,” Jack said with mild sarcasm.
Daniel ignored the sarcasm as he was long used to it. “Okay…” and he fixed a long, serious look at Jason. “I wouldn’t worry about it, Jason, if you’re basing your worries on ‘those plant people’. They were a completely different type of humanoid. Not human at all in our sense, so I think we can safely be here. Anyone with a cold virus, et cetera, probably shouldn’t come here, and Janet will medically clear whoever does come. We’ve been inoculated against just about everything on our planet, so…I think they’re safe. Besides, Jace, the imbalance on that planet was created when the UAV crashed into one of their plants and not caused by any virus or bacteria.”
Jason nodded, his worry lessening at Daniel’s words. He was anxious there for a moment. “I should have remembered that. As for accidents, I have a tiny bit of medical training, even if it’s only in emergency stuff, so at least if something goes wrong, I can fix our people.”
“You wouldn’t fix one of the aliens?” Sam asked.
“Well, I’d offer but I’d first see what medicines they have first. They may not be technologically advanced, but their medicines work or they wouldn’t be healthy.”
Jack tapped Jason on the shoulder. “Your worry is well and good, Jason, but we could just as easily be infected by something from here, instead of the other way around, and that’s been the case, more often than not.”
Jason nodded. “That’s true.”
They paused a moment, looking over at the elders and Asatay, who were still debating.
“So, Jason, what is it that you have on your back?” Daniel asked, staring at the cylindrical object.
“Yeah, I was wondering about that,” Jack added. “Not exactly a field sack, is it?”
Jason gave a shy smile. “I brought a gift…just in case they were who you said they were.”
“A gift?” Jack and Daniel echoed. Jason nodded.
“What?” Daniel asked.
“One of the rugs I bought.”
Daniel and Jack stared at him. “You mean that’s the rug you bought at the exhibition?” Daniel asked.
“I had to put it through decon when I brought it in. I was going to hang it on my office wall.”
“Well, damn, Jace,” Daniel replied, stunned by the thoughtful gesture.
Jack suddenly cleared his throat and nodded ahead of them as the Elders and Asatay finished their ‘deliberations’ and approached SG-1 and Jason. Asatay suddenly took Jason’s right forearm and clasped it in the old handshake method very familiar on Earth. Jason smiled and gripped the man’s forearm firmly, letting Asatay know that he was very comfortable with that method of greeting. Asatay then introduced them to the Elder, called “El-wa-gem” and Elwagem clasped Jason’s forearm and they exchanged a few words.
Daniel noticed that Jason seemed to be on a bit of a cloud nine. It was as if he were being introduced to his ancient ancestors and in a way, he was. Daniel felt a measure of pride for him, knowing that this was something that Jason had always kept very close to the vest, and not often talked about. He knew Jason missed the ties with his grandfather, but he also knew that Jason was very stubborn, and probably just as stubborn as Jason professed his grandfather to be. This meeting with the Dineh would very likely be the one sure way to get Jason and his grandfather to mend those fences, and to bring his grandfather a measure of peace about the military. Governments never seemed to change much, nor most of the military, but this was one military command that Jason could persuade his grandfather into trusting a little, if only to be able to come here.
He watched Jason introduce Jack, then kept his eye on him as he shook Elwagem’s arm himself, then watched Jason move down to Sam and Teal’c. Jason was picking up more and more of the language and he was doing it with ease. Daniel believed that Jason didn’t even know he was doing it, either. He wasn’t even using his booklet anymore. Daniel’s private assertion that Jason was a closet linguist proved true. The man had a gift, if for nothing else than picking up his own paternal language and its related lingual shifts, as witnessed here by the Dineh.
When Jason was finished introducing them, they were motioned to sit at his left when he sat down at the end of the long table next to Asatay. Daniel waited for Jack to sit down next to Jason, but Jack had him sit there instead.
“You’re the next linguist on this mission. Maybe Jason can teach you.” He gave Daniel a teasing smile.
Daniel smiled back and whispered, “Smartass.” He sat next to Jason, then Jack, Sam, and finally Teal’c. Others sat across from them and also next to Teal’c, but they’d made a space of one person’s width between him and the Dineh who sat nearest and at first, it looked like an alienation.
Jack bristled, wondering why. “Jason,” and he pointed. “Why are they doing that?”
Jason turned to Asatay and Elwagem, asked, then turned back to Jack, and down at Teal’c. “There’s no offense meant. It’s because one, Teal’c is seen as our warrior protector, and therefore needs respectful room if he’s to do his job. And two, I told him that that’s what Teal’c was, only in their wording, it’s more like war chief.”
Elwagem then asked Asatay a question, which Asatay relayed to Jason. Jason took a few moments before he understood then had to figure out how to explain. When he was finally finished, the two Dineh smiled and nodded. Daniel watched as Elwagem gestured for Jason to stand up.
“Jason?” He had only caught a few words, but he was basically in the dark as to what was going on, even by hand gestures, though he did know that Jason was talking about them.
“What’s goin’ on?” Jack asked as Jason got to his feet.
Jason smiled at him. “I’m explaining to Elwagem again, your names, but in the Dineh language that I know, along with your English surnames. I only gave him your first names before, as I did with Asatay, but Elwagem wants to know what we do as an exploring team.”
“Oh,” Jack replied and shrugged. He thought that this would prove interesting. He was already aware of how loose translations of older native languages to English were rather comical.
Jason indicated Teal’c’s staff weapon, which he held upright next to him, and put a hand on Teal’c’s left shoulder as he smiled at the Jaffa. “Teal’c, you are, in their language, Nah-e-thlai, or guide, and Bih-keh-he, which means war chief or general. So your name is Teal’c Chief Guide, for want of a better phrase. I don’t know the word yet for Master so forgive me for not being able to tell them that.”
Teal’c bowed his head at Jason, then bowed again at the head of the table. Elwagem and Asatay bowed back.
Jason stood behind Sam and put a hand on her shoulder. She looked up at him and gave him an embarrassed smile, not liking to be singled out.
“Sam, there’s no word for scientist and I’ve tried to explain your rank in our field of warriors, also known as the Air Force. But unfortunately, they don’t think of us as mere warriors. To them, we’ve been gifted by the The Grandmother, who’s allowed us to come here and visit.”
“Grandmother?” Sam asked, and Daniel recognized the name…to no one’s surprise.
“Uh yeah, that’s the Everlasting One, the Regenerator of Life. The Grandmother is the chief spirit who summoned the Anasazi people from the underworld through a portal, or sipapu, onto earth’s surface, where she directed them to find the “Center, or Middle, Place” which is usually next to water sources. It’s their spiritual core, a location which promised harmony and balance. She imbued them with a high regard for the resources of the earth, a recognition of the importance of direction and village orientation, a deep awareness of the march of the seasons, a veneration for spirituality and sacred places, and a reverence for their origins.”
“Their origins?” Jack asked.
Jason cleared his throat. “They know where they’re originally from, Jack. That they came to this world a long time ago, but they have no other knowledge of that. If I could understand them more…” and Jason left the statement hang, knowing that it wasn’t likely. “You mind if I continue?” he asked.
“Sorry,” Sam told him.
Jason smiled at her. “Well, you might not be after this,” and he cleared his throat again and smiled over at the Elder and Asatay. “Um, the closest thing I could tell them about your rank was what the code talkers called the rank of Major, which is che-chil-be-tah-ola, and that translates to gold oak leaf, same as me.” Sam snorted, as did Jack and Daniel. “So your name, to them, is Sam Gold Oak Leaf,” and he received a few snickers in response, especially from Sam. “But you’re also called, and forgive me please, a…” and he looked over at the Elder. “Da-ah-hi-jih-ganh ah-tad….which um, means ‘fighting girl’. There really isn’t a name for warrior as they weren’t a warring race, but if I could have found out the word ‘protector’, I’d have used that.” Jack and Daniel started to snort again but Jack got an elbow in the ribs, despite his status as her CO. It didn’t go unnoticed and the Elder and Asatay literally snickered.
“Ne-zhoni,” Elwagem added. “Ne-zhoni Da-ah-hi-jih-ganh Ah-tad.”
Sam looked as if she were getting ready to kick some ass, but Jason squeezed her shoulder. “No Sam. He just said you were a pretty fighting girl. Take it as a compliment and leave it.”
Sam valiantly fought back a flush of embarrassment and bowed a thank you to the Elder.
Jason went behind Jack next and introduced Jack as “Atsah-besh-le-gai Ah-na-ghai.”
“And that is?” Jack asked, trying to sound polite. Jason bent over and spoke in a low tone. His hand seemed to linger on Jack’s shoulder just a little longer than necessary and it didn’t go unnoticed by the Dineh. What they thought of it would remain to be seen.
“Forgive me Jack and know that it doesn’t have anything to do with your hair color. Only the color of your insignia. What I said means Silver Eagle and Leader, so you’re Jack Silver Eagle.”
Jack practically preened. “Oh yeah?” and his expression suddenly reminded Sam of the time she told him about the Asgard naming a ship The O’Neill. She snickered but he only looked smugly at her.
Elwagem suddenly asked Jason a question and Jason started to cough, as he understood what Elwagem meant. His hand motioned both Jack and Sam. Jason shook his head, and Elwagem asked a question that sounded to Daniel like “Why not?” He looked at his teammates as he still stood behind them, then he gestured to Sam, then to Jack, and said a few words. The Elder sniggered again, but Asatay only smiled.
“What was that about?” Sam asked just before Jack did.
Jason cleared his throat. “Um, they asked if you two were a couple, as in betrothed or married.”
Both Jack and Sam’s eyes went wide and looked to the Elder and vociferously shook their heads. Daniel, meanwhile, was trying to control a choking spasm as he’d been taking a sip from a cup of water on the table. Asatay smiled again and clapped Daniel on the back, hard. Used to Jack and Jason doing that to him, Daniel hardly moved as he held up his hand in a gesture of thanks. Asatay bowed at him, seemingly looking at him with a little more respect at the physical shape Daniel was in.
“So what did you say in response?” Daniel asked Jason as he cleared his throat.
“Well, I tried to tell them but my language is like broken English so it’s not coming out right. I said you two were mated to others.”
“That’s not far wrong in the Colonel’s case,” Sam quipped.
This time is was Jack turn to choke, though he didn’t have anything in his throat to choke on and he gave Sam a muted ‘you are so dead’ look. Sam pretended innocence and Jack wanted to get up and sit on Teal’c’s other side. He was surrounded by these ‘innocent wolves.’ He turned and fixed Jason with a deadly look that to outsiders appeared to be calm.
Jason wisely decided to move on and stepped behind Daniel and laid his hand on his shoulder. Daniel found himself subconsciously leaning into Jason’s touch and had to fight to keep from doing it. He had no idea if an obvious male-male relationship would be taboo here and had no wish to offend these people. He secretly wanted to just put his arm around Jason’s waist and proclaim him his lover but knew he’d likely never be able to do that…not while he was young, anyway. Jason seemed to sense what Daniel was thinking and squeezed his shoulder. Unknowingly to either of them, the Dineh, including the Elder and Asatay, caught their body language, but didn’t say anything then either.
“Daniel, you are…well, kind of two things. I don’t know the word for teacher, or scholar, and the guys back on Earth are going to laugh their asses off at me when we ask them into the program. Anyway, you are Na-ne-tgin Beh-bih-ke-as-chinigh, which means ‘teach what is written’, so your name would be translated to Daniel Teach What is Written. You are also considered a guide, so you can add that to your repertoire of names.”
Daniel smiled up at Jason, appreciative of what Jason was trying to do, and felt a bit strange at the name. On Earth, teaching what is written is usually teaching dogma and propaganda, but he took it in the vein that Jason meant it, so he couldn’t take offense. He placed his hand over Jason’s and patted it.
Asatay and Elwagem noticed that gesture and suddenly decided to ask as Jason sat back down. Jason went pale for a moment, clearing his throat almost convulsively. Elwagem and Asatay’s eyes went wide in alarm as Jason gestured quickly, trying to tell them that they were just friends.
Daniel watched with concern and put his hand on Jason’s forearm. “What’s the matter?”
Jason paused and turned to look at Daniel and Jack specifically, though his eyes caught Sam’s and Teal’c’s.
“I told you I wasn’t good at this stuff. I’m no diplomat.”
“Screw that,” Jack said. “You speak the language, well, mostly.”
“Jack, in my body language, and yours and Daniel’s, we’ve somehow…told them we were closer than just friends.”
Jack and Daniel’s eyes went just a little wide, but a whole lot cautious.
“Uh oh,” Daniel whispered.
“Is that bad? Do we have to leave?” Jack asked, his practical side coming out, now that the ‘damage’ was done.
Jason realized he couldn’t answer that. He’d automatically denied their relationship without ever asking if it was taboo. To ask would intimate that their relationship was as they thought.
Jason sighed. “I have no idea. I didn’t ask. I just…denied.”
Jack and Daniel exchanged brief glances. They understood why. Better safe than sorry. They didn’t take offense at it, either. Jason on the other hand, felt even more inadequate for this task and all he really wanted to do at that moment was get to the Stargate and home so he could get the Dineh people a better translator.
Asatay and Elwagem let his explanation go however and soon afterwards, drinks were then poured and food was served in ceramic cups and wide, shallow bowls. The people used a type of glossy black glaze on the ceramic and then painted designs over it, and Daniel was abruptly reminded of the ancient Mediterranean, specifically Greece. It was very beautiful work. The noise level in the room rose with the sound of over a hundred or so people talking around the many tables but it wasn’t uncomfortable and so eating the simple meal, consisting of fruits, vegetables, and meats and several spicy flat breads, was pleasant.
As Jason spoke with the Elder and Asatay and tried to explain their presence on their Planet of the Dineh, which is what it would later be called, or Dineh for short, his teammates looked around as they ate, smiling at the men and women who sat across from them. Daniel didn’t fail to notice that Jack watched the children, who sat at other shorter, rounder tables, with other adults, and they made the most noise as they laughed and played while they ate. Daniel found it comforting that the children seemed to be happy and very unafraid of strangers. To him, that meant the Goa’uld hadn’t been to the planet in a long time, if ever. Even though the coordinates weren’t on the cartouche, they could have visited anyway. Judging how the Dineh lived, it seem likely that the Goa’uld hadn’t been there for at least a five hundred years or more and that was a very good thing.
Daniel also found it comforting that Jack was not the least bit worried here, and that he was taking the time to watch the children spoke volumes to him.
“You ever wish you could have other children, Jack?” Daniel asked in a gentle voice as he leaned closely to him.
Taken off guard by the question, Jack tensed. He knew why Daniel was asking, and the place Daniel was coming from, so he forced himself to relax. “No, Daniel. Charlie was it. Part of me is too afraid of losing another child, but it’s mostly a thing of practicality now. If Charlie were alive, he’d be 16. Having a sixteen year old at 46 is not too bad. If I were to have a kid now, I’d be 62 by the time he or she was 16. No, thank you.” He then grinned at Daniel, softening his eyes, letting him know he was serious, and Daniel grinned back.
“What about you, Daniel? You change your mind about children?”
Daniel shook his head and didn’t elaborate and Jack didn’t question further. They’d had that talk before so it wasn’t necessary for Daniel to get into it. He didn’t want children. Never had. Never would. If Shau’re had gotten pregnant, he would have adjusted, for her, and tried his best as he always did. Daniel found himself wondering about Jason though. He knew Jason didn’t want children but that was months ago. He wondered if Jason would ever change his mind.
Jason had heard Daniel’s question and his mind went straight to what Daniel would ask him if Jason saw that look cast his way. He did. He smiled softly at him and shook his head as he sipped on the fruit drink in his cup.
“No, Daniel. Haven’t changed my mind either.”
Daniel tilted his head as he looked off in the distance, watching other Dineh across the room. The slight tease of a smile creased the side of his mouth. “Just checking.”
The never ending point-counterpoint between them: Daniel would worry; Jason would say he was fine. Daniel would check back some weeks or months later and Jason would tell him that things hadn’t changed. Of course, the opposite was just as true, if not more so, where Daniel would reassure Jason that he hadn’t changed his mind about whatever the subject matter was. None of that applied to how Daniel was feeling regarding his health. In that, he always said ‘fine’ and it was left to Jason…and Jack, Sam, Teal’c, and Janet….to determine if he really was. These were things that had been part of their initial friendship and as lovers, nothing had changed. Jason was grateful for that.
As the meal wound down, the additional Elders, who had sat down at the other end of the long table, got up along with a few other adults. They spoke, making a few ‘announcements’, or so it sounded like to the team. Jason was looked to for an explanation and he had to look to Asatay for help in translating.
As they talked, Daniel noted that Jason looked both hesitant and excited. From what Daniel was observing, his anthropological intuition told him that a ceremony was going to be conducted and he wanted to witness it. He’d been watching the elders and a few of the younger adults as they’d gone to a decorative table along a far wall and had picked up several items from it. Some of them were drums, others looked like rattles. A few of the women elders had set to adding dried herbs to water or fruit juice – he couldn’t tell from his position. Bowls were covered up and added to other larger bowls and trays, which they skillfully balanced and left the hall with. A few of the elder men left as well, carrying more bowls and trays, and a few remained behind, getting together supplies that Daniel couldn’t see. They looked like leather ornaments, but he wasn’t sure. Other people were moving back and forth in front of the far wall so those who worked were frequently blocked.
After the lengthy discussion, Jason finally turned to his mission teammates.
“Jace, what’s going on? It looks like they’re going to a ceremony,” Daniel asked, looking at Asatay, who seemed calm and matter-of-fact. Whatever it was, it didn’t seem to be too much of a worry for him. Jason, on the other hand, seemed to be a bit worried.
“Um, yes, only it’s a few ceremonies. They’ll be going on at once. Some are the typical ones they have, but one is designed for us, or rather about us and whether or not our presence here is for good or bane, and if we have disturbed the harmony and balance. It’s their way to find out if relations should continue, I guess.”
All of SG-1 sighed, wondering what to do now. Asatay then spoke to Jason again and all of SG-1 noted the surprise on Jason’s face.
“What?” Jack asked.
“Um, apparently I’m to take part in the ritual.”
“Uh…not without us, you’re not,” Jack said flatly. “Whatever it is, we all go or none of us do. No compromise on that, Jason. And that’s an order from your superior officer.”
Jack’s sudden change in tone, very commanding and no nonsense left no doubt in Asatay’s face as to who the leader of the Earth people was. Jason nodded to Jack and explained his ‘request’ to Asatay. Asatay inclined his head and thought about it, then turned to Elwagem, who’d walked a few feet away. He spoke to him without getting up, so that all of the remaining elders could hear. All of them, including Elwagem looked at Jason and SG-1. Then, almost as one, they nodded. Jason then asked Asatay just what the ritual involved and after a few exchanges in words, Jason looked a bit embarrassed.
“What?” Jack asked. He hated it when Jason did that…though Jason usually did it when it concerned something personal and he hoped this wasn’t too personal.
“Um, the ritual is kind of like those old stories you heard about smoking peace pipes, only in this case, it’s sitting in a hogan, or lodge, outside and away from this complex of caves. The lodge is filled with a kind of incense and if I understand it correctly, the incense is…well, like marijuana. It’s designed to relax the mind and open it.”
“You mean we sit in a smoke-filled room and get high?” Jack asked, with his eyebrows going back into his forehead.
Daniel snorted and shook his head. “Only you could come up with that analogy, Jack. Yes, basically, that’s what we’d be doing.”
“And if we don’t?” Jack asked Jason bluntly.
Jason blinked, assumed his military bearing, and sloughed off the embarrassment. “Then we go home, never to return.” He let the words sink in before continuing. “This is just as much about trust as it is about finding out what they need to know from the elemental energies around us.”
They waited in silence as Jack thought the matter through. “Well…I’m gonna have to get permission from Hammond to continue because, if you want to call it this, it sounds like a diplomatic request to initiate stable relations with these people. Therefore, any ceremony that involves all of us in a ritual of some kind, needs to be reported back.”
“I told him that, Jack. I’m well aware of procedure.”
Jack cleared his throat. He had just forgotten that Jason was the leader of his own team and had gone through similar situations like this already. He wasn’t green. “Sorry, Jason. No offense intended. So, what did he say?”
“That he’d escort us to the…” and Jason grinned, “Star Mother, so we could contact our Elder and get permission.”
“Star Mother,” Jack repeated. Like the K’tau’s name for their stargate, he decided he liked it. “I like that,” and he stood up, as did the rest of his team.
“Um, Jack, we can all go at once. On our way back, we’d be going to a different building, a lodge, if you prefer.”
Jack nodded and motioned at the door. Asatay smiled and led them out.
On the way back to the stargate, Jason finally added, “Jack, once we get there, I’m probably going to get separated for a moment.”
“Why?” asked Jack, Daniel, and Sam. Teal’c just raised a brow, which made Jason snort.
“I’m supposed to…um…get changed.”
Daniel looked at him in surprise and high interest. “Really? Into what?” His scientific curiosity was piqued now. Jack shook his head at Daniel’s insatiable curiosity.
“I’m guessing, but as a distant relative, I’m to wear a traditional garment of some kind…and I’ll probably get…painted up.”
“Painted?” Daniel asked, giving Jason a filthy grin, reminding him of the converted artist’s room in his house and their little ceremony of oil paint. Jason also noted the barely suppressed smile from Jack, who knew about that little ceremony. Jason grinned back but said nothing about it.
“I don’t really know, Daniel. I’ve never been privy to old Navajo ceremonies because I didn’t grow up traditionally, but these people seem to be descendants of the Anasazi, despite the Navajo word, Dineh. Their rituals may have changed over time but even if they hadn’t, I wouldn’t recognize them. None of what I noticed looks familiar. Only the meanings for them are.”
“So, we don’t have to change?” Sam asked.
Jason shook his head as they approached the DHD and watched as Daniel dialed home. “No. You’ll have to leave your weapons off your body though, but that’s not necessary. It’s only for safety and comfort. Getting high and having weapons around…” and he let that image to fill their minds.
“Um, what about children hanging around…” Jack asked, waving his hand. He felt Daniel’s comforting hand at his back, reminding him of his gentle support.
Jason gave him a thoughtful look, then shook his head. “Children aren’t allowed near the lodge during this kind of smoke ceremony, Jack, so don’t worry.”
“Good to know, thanks,” Jack nodded. “That means we can keep the weapons beside us.”
Jason nodded. “Anyway, about the clothes, you’ll probably want to strip down to t-shirt and shorts, though. It’ll be like a sweat lodge in there. It would be the five of us plus probably six or seven others…” and he trailed off and asked Asatay. “Five others. One for each of us. Like guides you might say. If it had just been me, Asatay would have been the only one in the ceremony with me.” He turned and asked Asatay a clarification question, then turned back to Jack. “There will be ‘interpreters’ of what we envision sitting outside the lodge. If what we see is bad, then our presence would likely be bad. For instance–“
Jack nodded and cut him off. “If we all have bad visions of Goa’uld, then we’d likely be bad. I gotcha on that one. Okay, let’s see what the Elder has to say,” and Jack received a round of snickers as he referred to General Hammond with that word.
After a long discussion, Hammond wasn’t going to allow it as it would put his team in a position of weakness. Jason had to step in then and convince the General that they were indeed safe and that their lives were in no danger.
“And if the planet should be attacked by Goa’uld while you’re under the influence?” Hammond argued.
Teal’c spoke up then and defended Jason’s point of view. Of anyone there, Teal’c could readily understand the need for ritual and it seemed to have escaped his friends, for which he would directly – and somewhat subtly, remind them.
“I am confident that my symbiote will prevent me from being affected so that I may watch over them and be able to contact the SGC if necessary. Even so, the state of our minds would not make much difference if we were to be attacked during the ceremony.”
Jason was grateful, for that argument from Teal’c changed the General’s mind and they were given the go ahead. Once they were on their way back, Asatay had them turn toward the opposite side of the small lake. There, four single story square ‘lodges’ sat, made of the same decorative stone as the others. It looked similar to marble but was sectioned, like brick. SG-1 was led inside a large one, where four elders sat, currently talking softly. Asatay motioned to his clothing, then to theirs, indicating that they strip down if they so desired.
“You don’t have to, but it would be more comfortable,” Jason told them. “I’ll be back shortly,” he said as Asatay motioned him outside.
The elders on the floor sat in a wide circle, their backs were nearest the walls. In the center of the room was a round depression, perhaps three feet across, containing a type of hearth fire. Propped over its edges lay a piece of stone with several holes bored through. On top of that was a wide stone pot. Inside was the sweet scent of herbs burning. The smoke wafted upward, filling the room slightly as part of it exited through a foot-wide opening in the ceiling. The space between the elders and the hearth was wide and Teal’c automatically assumed that it was where they would sit. A space directly across from the door, at the far wall, was empty and that could only be where Jason and Asatay would sit.
“Where do we sit?” Sam asked, mirroring Teal’c’s thoughts as she took off her field vest.
“You got me?” Jack replied, removing his own.
“I’m sure we’ll find out,” Daniel added as he removed his boots and placed them on his field vest, then removed his jacket.
Teal’c inclined his head. “Very likely in front of the elders.”
Jack, Daniel, and Sam looked at him, then at the arrangements on the floor and nodded. Daniel felt a bit silly for not seeing that sooner, but he was lost in the fascination of the building, the colors, sounds, and smells. The Elders had arranged specific types of bone and gem jewelry on their bodies, and around them or in their laps lay what appeared to be small drums; with them, rattles with long handles, decorated with an assortment of beaded leather thongs and beautifully marked feathers. The light source for the room came through the hole in the roof and from the fire in the hearth. It gave a rather mystical atmosphere.
As soon as they stripped down to their trousers and shirts, the elders motioned them to sit along the edge of the round ‘hearth’ in the center. It made a gap of about two feet between SG-1 and their ‘guides’. Curiously, Daniel and Jack were told to sit next to where Jason would sit, and Sam and Teal’c would be closest to the door. At first, Teal’c thought it was a warrior’s placement, but as he considered the relationship between his three friends, he thought that maybe that was the reason. If so, it would seem the Dineh weren’t as homophobic as Jason had seemed to think they might be.
Jason removed all but his shorts, with a very curious Asatay watching, finding the clothing construction curious. When Jason revealed his shorts, Asatay gave him a humorous smile, letting Jason know he found them funny. Asatay had stripped down until all he wore was what could be considered a breechclout. At first, Jason thought he expected him to wear one and was going to protest but Asatay noticed the look and shook his head. He moved to a corner of the slightly furnished room and pulled out a large cloth sack and removed two items of clothing. He handed one of them to Jason. They were leather pants, and Jason knew he’d need ‘instructions’ to put them on. Stepping into the legs was no problem, but the legs were almost separate, connected only by a single piece at the inseam and crotch. The rest of it was a section of flaps which would be pulled up, over, and then laced together over the groin.
Watching Asatay, Jason had gotten it, but he still needed help as it was his first time ever doing this. He was also sidetracked, distracted, by the adornment of the pants. Down both sides were strips of colored weaving patterns sewn into the leather. It set the dark honey color of the leather off beautifully.
Finally, Jason had the pants on. They weren’t tight but they were a little snug and they rode too low for his taste, revealing his abdomen an inch below his navel. He’d have to brave not only his lovers’ leers but Sam and Teal’c’s looks as well. He wasn’t looking forward to it. The pants were also making him feel somewhat…sensual. He might not have felt that way if he was with his own team but knowing that Daniel and Jack were with him gave him an edgy feeling he wasn’t used to on missions. He shook off the musing, looked up at Asatay and told him they were beautiful pants.
Asatay pointed, then spoke, telling him that they were his to keep. Jason gave him a smile, but he didn’t understand exactly what that meant as a few words were unfamiliar. However, he couldn’t wait to see their reactions when he gave Asatay and the Elder his gift. They’d love the thing, he was sure of it.
He asked Asatay if that was all there was for the ceremony and Asatay shook his head and took out a few jar from another table. Having Jason stand perfectly still, he dipped his pinky into three jars of ‘paint’, which were more like pastel chalk – sticky and powdery. Jason knew there was going to be artwork involved. There always was. He tried to focus on sections of wall as Asatay painted three thin black lines diagonally under his right eye, moving toward his ear. Under his left eye, three blue lines. Then in yellow ochre, a long thin line was drawn from under his bottom lip, at the center, down his chin, down his throat, and down to his breastbone.
As Asatay drew and reapplied the ‘paint’, Jason found himself getting warm and realized that the actions of Asatay were almost erotic in nature. When he caught Asatay’s eyes studying him as he reapplied paint to his finger, he decided to ask him what was going on instead of just trying to ignore it.
//”Asatay, what is the custom of mating with your people?”//
//”You know how to, yes?”//
Jason had to refrain from laughing or he’d mess up Asatay’s patient work.
//”Yes, I know how.”//
//”What do you ask then?”//
Asatay nodded. //”Yes.”//
Jason then swallowed carefully and hesitated. He didn’t know if he should say anything because then it would reveal that he’d lied earlier. It turned out that Asatay already knew he had.
//”Why do you protect the knowledge of your lovers?”//
Jason froze. //”Lovers? Protect?”// He didn’t understand all of what Asatay asked.
//”You are mated with Daniel and Jack. It is clear for all to see.”//
Jason blinked rapidly…several times. //”Is that offensive here? Is that why we’re having the ritual?”//
He heard Asatay chuckle. He refused to meet the man’s eyes. He so hated homophobia no matter where it cropped up and he really didn’t want to see it in a people he was already liking considerably well.
Asatay took his time answering and as he did, he finished the work, put away the jars, and wiped his pinky finger on a cloth. He then brought over leather, bead, and bone bracelets and a type of necklace. He slipped it over Jason’s head and the center of the piece lay just under the finished yellow ochre line. It seemed to be made of gemstones and animal bone, and the bracelets were made of both leather and animal bone pipe beads. The bracelets didn’t go around his wrists though. They went around his biceps.
Asatay wasn’t answering so Jason took his hand gently and stopped him. //”Asatay? Are male-male forbidden?”//
Asatay looked him in the eye and forced Jason to study him for a moment. As he did, he could have sworn he saw desire there.
//”No, Jason. It is not…common…but it is not forbidden.”// He suddenly leaned forward and touched his lips to Jason’s, just barely pressing them for a soft, slow closed-mouth kiss.
Jason felt himself freeze…or more accurately, do absolutely nothing as Asatay kissed him. Pushing him away didn’t occur to him and he found himself caught up in all the romanticism and emotional high of having found these people. Despite his love for Daniel and Jack, he realized he wanted to open his mouth; wanted to pull this man, who was mostly a stranger, into his arms. He could picture sexual images very easily in his mind and they didn’t make him feel ashamed for having them, but he did feel guilty.
He didn’t understand why he had the feelings either, but he knew he’d have to tell Daniel and Jack about the kiss later on. On Earth, off base, at home. Jack had been showing an increasing amount of possessiveness where he was concerned and knew Jack’s reaction would be that of jealousy. Jason also realized that he liked the idea of Jack being jealous and chastised himself for it. The psychology-trained man inside him knew the reasons for his reactions: to Jack’s response about the kiss, to the kiss itself, and to Asatay. Daniel’s reaction would be a little bit of jealousy, and he hoped that Jack wouldn’t ‘overreact’.
He did know one thing for certain. That even with all that he was feeling, he’d never betray his feelings for Daniel and Jack. Asatay seemed to know this, too, which was probably why he kissed him after the paint was applied, to make sure that a ‘barrier’ was placed between them when he made his interest known.
Asatay stepped back, giving Jason a soft smile. //”I wish you were free to stay here.”//
Jason felt a blush rising and somehow managed to keep it at bay. //”That is very kind of you to say. I am honored.”// Nothing else was said about it, but Asatay asked only one more thing.
//”You love them?”//
Jason nodded, and Asatay quickly nodded back. //”You are not one who would love easily.”//
//”That is true.”// and Jason paused, considering his words. //”I am sorry.”//
Asatay shook his head. //”We have something I prize better. A long friendship. Yes?”//
Jason gave him a huge smile. //”Yes.”//
They clasped forearms in a bonding manner, then Asatay asked Jason if he was ready, and Jason nodded. He felt just a bit choked up at the moment and wouldn’t dare embarrass himself by speaking. They left the small hogan and moved toward the larger ceremonial one, where SG-1 waited somewhat impatiently.
“If we don’t get this show on the road, my knees are going to lock up,” Jack grumbled as he knelt, his legs tucked under him. The others sat the same way, except for Daniel, who sat cross-legged. Jack envied his ability to do that so easily.
Jack then suddenly realized that his knees didn’t hurt like they usually did, and just as his mind remembered that trip to Thor’s ship, Daniel reminded him as well.
“Your knees were fixed, Jack. They shouldn’t lock up.”
Jack gave him an impatient stare. “I just now realized that they don’t hurt. It’s a habit, I guess. Though when my legs were just fine, I still hated sitting like this for long periods. They’d fall asleep. I hate that tingling.”
Sam could appreciate that sentiment and nodded. “I’ve always had a problem sitting like that,” and she suddenly shifted and sat cross-legged like Daniel. “There, that’s better.”
Teal’c looked at them and decided that since he sat cross-legged during kel-no-reem, it wouldn’t be much different. He adjusted his seating accordingly.
“How long will this take, you think?” Jack asked Daniel.
Daniel shrugged. “Maybe an hour or so. I don’t really know, Jack. I’ll ask Jason when he joins us.”
“What do you think they’re doing to him?”
“What Jason said. Clothing, paint maybe.”
Jack sighed, wishing Jason would hurry up. A sudden stereotypical image of Jason in a loincloth and headband came to him and he smiled.
“What?” Daniel asked.
“Um, I just had an image of a loincloth and headband.”
Daniel snorted softly and shook his head. “We really need to find other images to replace those.”
Jack grinned sarcastically. “We? You, too, huh?”
Daniel didn’t nod or agree and made himself look elsewhere and not meet Jack’s eyes. Jack knew the mannerism well and smiled.
“Uh huh. I knew it.”
“Shut up, Jack.”
Their ‘guides’ observed them with quiet amusement.
As Jason approached the entrance, he just knew there’d be a round of silence followed by some sarcastic comments from Jack and Daniel, and probably a dropped jaw from Sam. Teal’c he wasn’t worried about. Nothing seemed to embarrass the man. However, Jason knew he had to diffuse the situation quickly with a few well-chosen words. While he tried to think of what he’d say, he asked Asatay what would happen in the ceremony and Asatay told him. Jason nodded and they went inside. It never once occurred to him that he had been understanding and speaking Asatay’s language more easily. To him, the realm of language was Daniel’s.
The door, covered by a colorful woven cloth curtain, was held aside and Jason entered, followed quickly by Asatay, who dropped the curtain and enclosed them in the dim light once more. The looks he received from his teammates sent a warm flush of embarrassment through him which he tried to suppress. “Okay, stop drooling,” he said quietly, feeling uncomfortable as he walked around behind Sam and Daniel to his place at the back.
Daniel hadn’t quite known what to expect but when he saw Jason enter, all his breathing stopped. After all the love in his heart swept up with pride at the man, most of the blood in his extremities left for his groin. His eyes were drawn to the color of Jason’s tanned skin, which was made darker by the color of his pants and the light color of the bone in the necklace and bracelets. The pants themselves he found himself wanting to taste. They looked like part of him, even though they weren’t tight on him. They fit him…perfectly. Daniel found they were giving him images of being opened at the crotch, where he’d have his cock buried inside Jason, thrusting slowly…forever, making Jason writhe and howl and come. Daniel’s balls felt heavy with a deep need; his lips seemed to fill with heat, wanting to suck and bite those nipples that were so deliciously accentuated by the necklace Jason wore. Daniel’s hands began to sweat, another ache finding his palms and fingers as they felt the intense need to stroke, to feel the heat from Jason’s body under their touch. His senses were quite overwhelmed and he had a feeling that the sweet pungent aroma of the smoke had something to do with it.
Jack’s emotions were no different than Daniel’s…except…they were. For him. What Jason brought out in him…Jack became confused for a moment. Jason had always brought out a hunger in him. No, that wasn’t right. He’d been bringing it out in him since Jason’s birthday. But now, Jack felt this intense hurt to be with Jason, and not just to fuck him and to have Jason fuck him back. Jack wasn’t quite sure what it meant and he ended up visualizing instead on the raw sexual feelings, wanting Jason to make him scream, to make him claw at sheets or at the ground beneath him as he came. Though he’d never actually felt those things before, either. It was an amazingly passionate reaction; one which he had never felt for anyone…except Daniel…and definitely not on a mission. Never on a mission. Even one as supposedly relaxed as this one.
No…Jack knew it had to be the herbal smoke…that’s what it was. Jason had always been a very handsome man, but he’d never had this kind of reaction on him, not even in the base showers. He’d been aroused, sure, but not like this; not where his cock filled with blood in seconds and his body warmed until he began to lightly sweat. He wanted Jason badly and he had to get control over this feeling right damn now.
Jason sat cross-legged between Daniel and Jack in the place Asatay directed him to sit. He found he couldn’t look at his friends/lovers without showing very visible signs of arousal. He looked at Sam and Teal’c instead, and though Teal’c met his eyes warmly, Sam smiled and averted her eyes.
She didn’t quite know what to do with herself. Jason looked…well, arousing, if she was honest. She and Janet had taken the time to look at him that day he’d been soaked to the skin over at Daniel’s. But now, he seemed so much more…seductive, alluring. It wasn’t fair that he was gay. All the good ones were gay. Even the Colonel. Though she wouldn’t have had a chance with him even if he wasn’t gay. He was her CO. Her career was more important to her than a roll in the sack. She grinned to herself. As if that would ever happen anyway. She threw off the thoughts, trying to focus on Jason as if he weren’t bronzed, muscular, and wearing those delectable leathers.
Casting a glance at Teal’c, she saw him look at Jason with admiration and found no desire on his face. If it was there, he hid it well. Unlike Daniel and Jack.
She felt a growing sense of annoyance with them for not sharing with her the knowledge of their relationship. Sam had known how Jack felt about Daniel because Daniel had told her not long after they’d patched things up between them. She’d wondered how things had turned from the months of animosity back to friendship again, so Daniel had let her in on the little secret. That part had phased her a little bit, finding out that Jack was gay, but the more she’d thought about it, the more sense it made. She’d been so happy for their friendship again, and for the team’s dynamic, that it hadn’t bothered her – not even in the slightest. A hidden part of her secretly thought that it served Jack right that he was too late.
Then they’d come back from Thor’s ship…and she’d enjoyed seeing the men together, safe, and happy. They’d actually looked…cute. Then Teal’c had pulled her aside later on that day to inform her of a few things – and why he’d chosen to tell her of his suspicions, she didn’t fully understand. All he’d explained was that they should be aware of all aspects of their friendships so that they could ‘just be informed’. He didn’t like being left out just as she didn’t and when he’d told her that they were seeing each other…all three of them, Sam thought he was pulling her leg, that he was kidding. Teal’c’s serious look lasted a little longer than his ‘kidding’ look and she’d been forced to believe him.
At first, she couldn’t get her mind around the concept of a gay threesome. From a friendship she’d formed with one of the other scientists, who was gay, she’d learned a few things. Such as ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ and what a ‘nellie’ was, so she understood the dynamics of some gay relationships. She’d also found it fascinating. But she couldn’t understand how Jack, Daniel, and Jason could be together. They were all alphas…how did their relationship work? Didn’t they fight all the time? Just how did a compromise in a relationship work with three men?
So…she’d given the information her due consideration and like a good scientist, she’d put aside her preconceived notions and did her research. She’d watched the subjects in question interact and what she found was frankly surprising and mysterious. They argued, but they never really fought about anything. Sam couldn’t remember seeing any of them get into a major fight – even about work. So…they must be doing something to let off the steam. She wanted to ask Daniel, knowing he’d probably tell her, but she felt like she’d be prying so she said nothing.
Honestly, she never thought that Jack would ever go for such a relationship. He was too possessive and protective an individual on just a friendship basis. He practically felt it necessary to clear any ‘date’ she had wanted to go on, to which she had promptly responded by threatening to shove a naquada reactor up his ass if he didn’t butt out.
Sam figured that his involvement with Jason and Daniel had to be Daniel’s influence. Only he could inspire such trust and openness and deep down, she was envious. She still didn’t understand how a three-way alpha scenario would work and she’d started to doubt Teal’c’s powers of observation. They couldn’t be together. Where was the outlet? Who was the top or bottom? She didn’t get it. So…she’d invited her gay friend, Cameron, over for dinner and put the question to him.
“I have recently learned that three friends I know are involved in a three-way relationship. Each one is an alpha male so how can they be together if they don’t fight all the time? A relationship has to have compromise in order for it to work but all three of these guys I know…well, they compromise at their work assignments and stuff but with each other? I don’t get it. One of them is more flexible than the other two but he’s by no means a pushover…or as you called it, a nellie. So…how is it they’re together and not fighting, even as friends, at work?”
“They all work together?” he’d asked.
Sam had nodded her head but covered by quickly adding, “But not in the same department. One has seniority, but they don’t work together.”
Cameron had finally said, “Then this is not a casual relationship. They love each other…and…”
“And?” she’d asked.
“They have a lot of sex…and it’s probably rough…and rough sex is very freeing.”
Sam had been drinking her wine when he’d said that and she’d started to choke. Cameron had had to get up and smack her on the back a few times before she could get herself under control. She remembered that Cameron had started to laugh at her, her high blush not fading one bit.
“You asked, Sam.”
Yep, she’d asked and gotten an answer that she hadn’t been ready for. But…after she’d gotten over that embarrassment, and the hidden embarrassment she’d had after seeing all three men together the next day – and the inevitable flashing images of sex that came to her mind – she’d been able to see that they did love each other. She knew Daniel and Jack didn’t love easily, and though she wasn’t close with Jason, she had a feeling he was the same. She was finally able to see that their relationship did work. It was obvious…though she still couldn’t see it from the alpha male perspective. She herself was an alpha female. She couldn’t conceive of sharing a lover with someone else. If she were gay…lesbian, whatever…she wouldn’t see it there, either. But, it was possible. They were proof.
Her annoyance with them seemed to be growing, as not one of them had said anything about their relationship and she was feeling left out of the loop again, even though she was in it without their knowledge. She couldn’t figure out why they wouldn’t say anything and to her, that meant only one thing. They didn’t trust her. She thought she had proven her loyalty time and again, but she supposed this was different. It’s not as if she’d ever say anything. Since she knew about Daniel and Jason, why couldn’t she trusted to know about the three of them? So what if he was her CO. Maybe they didn’t think she’d believe them. Or maybe the Colonel was too embarrassed. He wasn’t one given to open displays of love. Friendly affection, yes. Love, no. She’d only ever seen it around Cassie and also when Daniel was hurt and in the infirmary, but those cases were different. Maybe…Sam shook herself. No more maybes. When they got home, she’d confront them. She was tired of these secrets and they were pissing her off.
Teal’c looked over at Sam, watching her ‘assessment’ of Jason, of Jack and Daniel. She cast him a look of annoyance and she shook her head at him. He could tell what she was thinking, and he nodded in understanding. He found it odd that he understood her just then, knowing exactly what she was thinking of, because most of the time, she wasn’t very easy to read. She often said one thing and felt another. Like Jack. The two were much too alike, and more than they’d ever admit. Teal’c looked over at Jason and watched him sit down, nodding to him when Jason looked back. Jason was a very honorable man, but it wasn’t until just now that Teal’c saw him as a sensual man. He’d only ever seen him as a fitting warrior, worthy of a relationship with Daniel. He’d had his doubts at first, but as he came to know Jason’s deep feelings for Daniel, and what he’d do to try and protect him, Teal’c knew Daniel was with someone who was good for him.
Jack, on the other hand…Jack was a surprise. Teal’c had known about Jack’s feelings for Daniel for a long time. Jack had resisted them to the point of ostracizing Daniel from the team and Teal’c had been ready to intercede until Jack had finally ‘seen the light’, as the Tau’ri often say. But Jack had been too late. Daniel had found love through Jason instead and Teal’c had felt a strange sense of justice against Jack for waiting too long. However, things had changed. Daniel, being Daniel, couldn’t let go of the love Teal’c knew he carried for Jack since the return mission from Chulak. Teal’c was rather surprised at Jack’s openness, but considering Daniel’s nature, maybe it shouldn’t be so surprising. For himself, Teal’c found the men attractive, but he found Sam more to his liking. A very strong woman, Sam, and he’d always liked his women strong.
Jason was trying to gauge whether his friends were ready when he caught Teal’c’s eye and nodded again at the man. He couldn’t help but feel under scrutiny. He had no idea if this was the right thing to do and so hoped that if any of his friends had visions, they wouldn’t be bad ones. He knew from experience how mystical these ceremonies tended to get, and though his psychology knowledge could explain away some of it, it didn’t explain all of it.
He suddenly heard and felt Asatay sitting behind him, then felt the man lean forward and whisper in his ear. He couldn’t help but shiver at the touch of the man’s lips behind his ear, touching only his hair. He nodded in understanding as Asatay slowly pronounced his words, making sure he caught the meanings. Jason looked over at Daniel and found Daniel had taken off his glasses. For some reason, the blue of his eyes seemed brighter, and then he remembered the herbal smoke. Damn, but that stuff was quick. He smiled at his lover, then looked quickly at Jack, Teal’c, and Sam.
“You guys ready?”
“So what’s gonna happen here?” Jack’s voice sounded gravelly and he cleared it.
“Okay, um…the Elders are going to chant and use their drums and rattles, the purpose of which is to call up the elemental spirits and ask them for basically a yay or nay vote. Their answer will come through visions they have. All ‘we’ do is listen, breathe, and accept whatever fills our minds. Try not to let your thoughts drift to mission or work-related things. There’s nothing wrong if you do, it’s just that any ‘messages’ you might otherwise receive could be blocked off.”
“Messages like what?” Sam asked, noting with a bit of awkwardness that Jack and Daniel couldn’t take their eyes off Jason and from Jason’s expression, he wasn’t unaware of it.
“I’ve no idea. They could be anything. They’d probably be more like the little dreams you have when you’re napping, you know?”
Sam nodded, accepting that explanation. Teal’c nodded as well, though he was sure that nothing whatsoever would happen with him and his sole purpose would be to watch and guard his friends.
“That’s…um…some outfit. Cassie’d love a dress like that…plus the jewelry. Did Asatay give you those?” Sam asked, trying to force herself to sound normal. She didn’t blush and she was thankful for that. So was Jason.
“Thanks. I’ll ask about a shirt or something like it, but it’d likely be cloth instead of leather. I think the jewelry is loaned,” and he smiled, giving glances at everyone as he fingered a few of the long black ‘claws’ at the end of necklace. “These things are quite beautiful and much too prized to simply give to a stranger. This is a ceremony to find out if we’re worthy so if Asatay were to give them to me, it would be after the ceremony was completed.” He then smoothed a wrinkle from the leather over his left knee. “I am feeling rather…exposed.”
“Perhaps that is the intent,” Teal’c offered. Jason thought about that, then finally nodded.
“Maybe. It is a ritual practice to open your mind, your thoughts, and a feeling of exposure could help that along I guess.”
Jack suddenly snorted. “Damn, Jason. You suddenly sounded like Daniel.”
Daniel smiled sarcastically, finally speaking. “Thanks, Jack. I’ll take that as a compliment.”
“I meant it as one.”
Jason looked at them both. “You guys okay?” he asked with a small grin.
Daniel nodded, trying to forget his arousal, and focused his thoughts back to the ensuing ceremony.
“I’m fine, Jace. It’s just that…you surprised me. You look amazing,” and he swallowed, then once more, finding his throat too dry. “Are there any waterskins around?”
Jason turned to Asatay, who produced a large gourd with a long neck and wide mouth.
Jason handed it to Daniel and he drank a little, then passed it on to Sam, who drank and passed it over to Teal’c. When he drank, then passed it to Jack, Jason repeated his question as Jack hadn’t answered.
“How are you doing, Jack?”
“Fine. Um…what Daniel said.” He cleared his dried throat, then took another sip. He was irritated at himself for nearly losing control and was slowly but surely getting it back. He handed the gourd back to Jason, touching his fingers as he did so. Jason paused, saw the effort Jack was making, then took his eyes off Jack to return the gourd to Asatay. He turned back to Jack and took his hand in a strong thumb-over-thumb grip. “I’m sorry, Jack. It wasn’t my intention to fuck this up for you.”
“Not your fault, Jason.”
“No…Jason. No apology needed. Got it?”
Jason nodded. “You ready?” he asked. Jack nodded, as did Daniel, Sam, and then Teal’c. Jason turned his head and nodded to Asatay. The man began to hum, drawing it out for a long minute, then faded the sound to a stop. The ‘music’ from the drums and rattles began, giving off a very soft, lulling sound of their own. Jason and SG-1 closed their eyes, listening, letting their minds open as much as they could let them.
The minutes passed and quickly added up to twenty. None of the members of SG-1 or Jason were aware that the time had passed. To them, it had been a few minutes only. But they were soon in the dreaming, having a vision each would remember forever.
The first to receive a ‘vision’ was Sam.
She’d been thinking how every member of SG-1 was highly intelligent, and in varying ways, and how hard it would be to let their minds drift or float. Each one of them had busy minds and the only ones who’d actually had experience with this sort of thing were Teal’c, who had then taught some methods to Daniel, though Daniel had learned other methods on his own travels.
Sam felt that her mind was a very focused tool, like a laser. She’d once told Jack that she was very focused on whatever she did. That focus, the conversation, and the reason for the conversation – having a private life – seemed to fill her mind. When the vision came to her, it was of all the men in her life. They were there, at times as clear and sharp as if she were awake and seeing them.
She stood, it seemed, in smoke or fog. It seemed to dissipate around her, leaving her untouched for about three feet, yet it covered her feet. No other ‘objects’ were there with her. Only the fog. No furniture, no other colors of any kind. Light came from everywhere and nowhere.
She suddenly saw her father, Jacob, and her brother, Mark. They were on the periphery, just barely covered by the fog. Their faces held love and concern. Long past conversations filled the air around her, then soon, the sounds faded, as did they. A man’s voice was now calling her name and when she felt hands on her shoulders, she whirled around. It was Martouf and his symbiote, Lantash. Only Lantash was there in the form of the late Lt. Peter Elliot, his last host. His eyes were constantly glowing, letting her know who he truly was. Both men were smiling at her…telling her they loved her…then their smiles faded…and they were asking her forgiveness. She frowned, unable to figure out why they’d be apologizing. They kept apologizing…nearly fading into the fog…then another voice, female, but with the symbiote resonance was speaking. Sam turned and there was Jolinar, in her host body as Rocha. She was also apologizing…apologizing for taking her body. Sam felt her anger welling within and she found herself crying…then screaming at Jolinar.
“You had no right, you had no right!”
Jolinar was now crying, saying she’d only wanted to survive, to make it back to the Tok’ra, and to Martouf and Lantash. Sam felt her tears flowing more freely with her anger and resentment, telling Jolinar how she stole a part of her life from her, how she couldn’t ever trust her feelings for Martouf, or any man, until that love for Martouf had waned. Martouf, Lantash and Jolinar then abruptly faded and were replaced with echoing words…words she’d spoken before, how she couldn’t ever love until she could separate her feelings from Jolinar. The air reverberated with the words…then there was Narim, holding her hand, then holding her around the waist. “I love you, Samantha,” and he was kissing her. Explosions filled the air, startling her and Narim was suddenly taken from her grasp and he disappeared in the fog, telling her goodbye.
The tears on her face continued to flow, this time in grief, saturating her cheeks. She’d never allowed herself to grieve, except alone, at home, in bed. Too short a time to do it properly. She’d needed time away and had never taken it. Story of her life. She’d never taken the time for love, either.
Suddenly a man’s words filled the air…and the recognized voice, that of her fiancée, Capt. Jonas Hansen, reminded her why she’d put love on hold. “You always have to be in control. Why can’t you just let go for me?” and her answer had been, “Because you are a control freak and always want to be in control. There’s no give and take with you. It’s all you, you, you. You don’t respect me, my abilities, my work. Fuck you, Hansen!”
Sam hadn’t been with him out of love, either. He’d been an attraction. A magnet. She was lonely and still somewhat emotionally immature. His controlling, manipulative behavior had forced her to mature fast. He had been the last person she’d been with and that had been eight years ago. Now…because of him, and because of her fear of getting someone like him again, she was alone.
“Why am I alone?” she asked chokingly in the blank fog.
“You are not alone. I will always be there.” Sam turned and there was Orlin, dressed as she last saw him. She smiled at him, wiping at her tears hastily. He smiled back at her and approached her, touching her cheek to wipe away the remaining wetness. She leaned into his palm as it then cradled her damp cheek. She brought her hand up to his in the same way she had before he had re-ascended. “I’m sorry,” she told him, then started to step away but he pulled her back to him. He was warm…and very alive. His arm around her, his skin against hers. She looked into his eyes, so soft and kind and loving and…she realized they were both nude. “Orlin?” she asked, unsure, afraid. He rubbed his nose against hers. “I love you, Sam,” he whispered then, giving her soft kisses and caresses. He felt so real, she told her mind. His touches, his kisses…they felt so real. She let herself feel them, pretending…just for a moment that they were real.
“I will always be with you, Sam. You will never be alone even when you fall in love again.” She shook her head. “I will never find anyone else, Orlin. I never have the time.” He held her face in his hands then and told her, “Then make the time.” He kissed her hard then, passionately, waking up desires in her she constantly suppressed. “Make love to me,” he whispered. She’d never felt him this way, not even during the time he’d lived with her as a human, and she couldn’t believe how real he felt now. The head of his cock pressed between the lips of her vagina and she felt the shaft, hot, throbbing, pushing between her legs as his hands now stroked her back. Her breasts crushed against his chest, her nipples rubbing erect against the hairs as he whispered over her lips. “I love you, Sam. Make love to me.” She wrapped her legs around his thighs and felt how wet she was as he pushed his cock inside her and began to rock. He was so alive and he felt so damn good. She hadn’t felt this in ages and she grabbed him and kissed him back, fiercely, her hips meeting his thrusts as she very willingly made love to him as he made love to her.
Teal’c was listening to the others breathe. There was nothing to fear from the outside. He was certain of that. He allowed himself to drift into a light state of kel-no-reem. He was at peace and very relaxed. Suddenly an image clouded his thoughts. A faint image, like a ghost. It became stronger. The image of a symbiote, floating in heavy fluid.
This wasn’t possible. He was nowhere near a deep kel-no-reem so how could he be receiving an image from his symbiote? Then Teal’c checked himself. He shouldn’t be receiving images like that anyway. His symbiote was a Goa’uld and it held a hatred for him. Why the softer images? Teal’c remembered what Shau’nac had told him. How her symbiote had fooled her by sending her images of love.
Teal’c grinned inwardly, having caught the Goa’uld for what it was. A deceiver.
I will never deceive you.
Teal’c’s eyes flew open at the words. It was a thought. A thought that came deep within. It was a muffled, smothered sound. Barely audible. But he’d heard it.
He did not know what to make of it, and he cursed himself for feeling the fear at not knowing what it was. Somewhere inside him, he knew what it was. And he had to find it. If his symbiote was indeed speaking to him somehow, he had to immediately teach himself to ignore it. This new trick would be dangerous and it was something he couldn’t allow. He’d taught himself to ignore many of the heinous things he’d seen and done in his life before the Tau’ri. He would teach himself this one as well. Though it came from within, he would conquer it, as he did everything else.
He closed his eyes and set his breathing to slow, then his heart to slow. Calm once again, he meditated on nothing. But soon, that nothing turned to a kind of dreaming, a dreaming he wasn’t sure he was having himself, or if it were being transmitted by the symbiote. He was standing on a dais, in a vacant temple. Smoke or fog seemed to be filling the room, yet it stayed away from him, swirling just out of arm’s length, yet there was no wind to make it move.
“I am here, my beloved,” she said, and Teal’c turned, finding Shau’nac as she used to be. Alive, with her raven hair fixed in a jeweled headband, different from when he’d seen her at the SGC. This was more like the time when they had first met and had fallen in love. But her eyes seemed to hold the pain of years passed by. Like the ones he held in his quarters when they’d made love. She reached up and stroked his chin. “I will always love you, Teal’c. Tel ma tae.”
“Tel ma tae, Shau’nac,” he replied, taking her hand. She was kissing him then, and her kisses became harder and more passionate, more frantic. He dropped to his knees, bringing her onto his lap. Their hands roamed, their kisses continued. The caresses stirred his blood, made him hard. His hands found her breasts as his mouth found her throat. He was aware they now wore no clothing, and equally aware that her thighs were opening to him, gripping around his waist. As he felt his cock burying inside her, his hands ran over her strong muscular back, and he loved that strength that lay beneath her skin. Her breathing increased as she rode him and his mouth latched onto her shoulder, her throat, under her jaw. When his hands moved upward, he was suddenly aware that he did not feel her long hair brushing over them and he opened his eyes. Instead of Shau’nac, it was Sam…and as he saw the rosy flush in her cheeks as her passion climbed, he came and came hard.
Jack was wondering when this breathing and floating thing would be over. He was uncomfortable with his feelings just now and wanted to get out of here and back home – home, where he could throw himself into paperwork and monotony and not be so…caught up in all this spiritualistic stuff. He wasn’t afraid of it and what he would never tell Daniel was that he actually enjoyed it, but he was also uncomfortable with it because he didn’t know how he was supposed to ‘feel’ about it. He didn’t exactly believe in it. After seeing so much death, and causing a lot of it, he didn’t much believe in anything that wasn’t tangible. Those were safe components in his world. He could deal as long as he could touch, see, and hear. When one was missing, he didn’t know what to do with it and that sent up alarms. He had to be in control. Always.
That was what made it so heartbreakingly bad when he’d realized he’d fallen in love with Daniel. He knew it had probably been on Abydos, or maybe after Oannes and Nem, when Daniel died the…third time. Only he didn’t. But he thought he had. When he’d realized it had been on the most unlikely of days. He’d never told Daniel when exactly that had been but it was one of the most innocuous times that could have revealed that revelation.
That stupid time travel. “Well, I know 23 languages, Jack. Pick one.” It hadn’t said that in his dossier and Jack remembered thinking – after Daniel had said that – that he’d have a little chat with those intelligence boys. When they’d returned to their own time, Jack had given Daniel a whole ration of teasing for speaking Russian when the American guard had asked him if he was a Russian spy. In 1969, not many young Americans knew Russian well enough to speak it freely, much less respond in it automatically…without thinking. By the time they’d left their old locker room, Daniel had been ready to hit Jack. In the garage upstairs, they’d argued, good-naturedly though, and Jack was having a lot of fun with it. Then Daniel had driven home, alone, as had he, and when he’d gotten home, Jack had realized how disappointed he had been that Daniel wasn’t with him. When Jack had lain in his bed that night, he’d also realized how he had wanted Daniel with him there as well.
At the realization, he’d groaned, and fantasy images had filled his mind. As his hand travelled to his thickening cock, he’d pictured Daniel sucking him, fucking him, and as he’d stroked, pulled, and squeezed, his images became more elaborate and romantic, with Daniel yelling for him to come. Jack remembered the exquisite feeling he’d had at imagining Daniel lying over him, thrusting away as he’d held onto the headboard, shouting at Daniel to fuck him harder. Lying there in his bed, with one hand gripping his headboard and the other pumping his cock rapidly, he’d come hard, and as he did, the words had just flown from his lips, “I love you, Danny!”
When his afterglow had died down, Jack had realized what he’d said, and why. Ever since then, he’d tried to distance himself, bit by bit. And it hadn’t been easy. He hadn’t wanted to treat Daniel differently, but Daniel was his best friend so Jack couldn’t have helped that part. But he had been afraid of getting Daniel killed in the field and also of Daniel discerning his feelings for him. Daniel was highly intuitive; he’d learn of it if the steps weren’t taken. So Jack had taken them…and the coward’s way out.
It had taken a while for Jack to wake up from his mistake, and the trigger events weren’t so ordinary: Daniel’s dying on him again, because of that addiction in the Goa’uld opium den, and then eight months later, his first covert mission – without Jack or his teammates. No one but Jacob. And Daniel had been told to kill. And the only one Daniel had to turn to afterward had been his best friend…and Jack was thankful that Daniel had found one…right after that fiasco with the Harcesis. His best friend was also gay…though Jack hadn’t known that at the time, but he was glad that the man was there for him…that the man had opened his arms to Daniel and Daniel had gone.
In that moment he’d seen them together, as friends, he was somehow assured that he’d have to mend things. That it was time. Jack’s love for Daniel hadn’t diminished and though it was a risk, he had to do it. He simply couldn’t bear to see the sadness in Daniel’s eyes any longer. Something in his soul had told him to fix it, and though he wanted Daniel more than just as his friend, he’d gone to Daniel’s only to mend their friendship, nothing else. In fact, he hadn’t really let himself think about anything else. But what had changed his reasoning was seeing Daniel and Jason kiss, as lovers, and it had pushed him, finally, into saying something. And boy, did he. Afterward, Daniel had gotten mad.
It had taken a while, but Jack had slowly begun to build their trust up again. Then he’d gone and done something that, at the time, he cursed himself for…and still did actually. He’d kissed Daniel. Daniel had been vulnerable and he shouldn’t have done it. Daniel had never said anything, but Jack had felt guilty all the same. He was seeing Jason, and at the time, there was a silly misunderstanding while Jason was cooped up in the infirmary. Jack had seen Daniel looking hurt and he’d wanted to take the hurt away…but he’d let his hormones take over.
Just as he’d let his hormones take over in the bedroom on the early morning hours of Daniel’s birthday. He’d made love with the both of them. Daniel and Jason. Had finally – finally – felt Daniel inside him. All his fears of losing Daniel had evaporated then. He’d felt the man’s love through that act…and as silly as it sounded, Jack knew it was true. He’d never say it out loud or try to understand it himself. He just accepted.
Just as he’d come to accept that he loved Jason. He never thought it possible but Daniel had proved to him that it could happen…and it did happen. And Jack’s feelings for Jason were so very intense and he didn’t understand them. It wasn’t like being in love with Daniel…but he loved him, nonetheless.
Now, here he was…on another planet…indulging in some ceremony that was getting him slightly high. Fortunately, it was mild as he wasn’t feeling any head rushes. What he felt was relaxed and maybe that’s what that herbal stuff was that was burning.
Jack suddenly caught himself thinking of the mission and remembered what Jason had told him, so he forced his mind to go elsewhere…to drift. He started thinking of all the planets he’d been to, with his team, with Daniel, and a few with Jason and his team.
Inwardly, Jack frowned as he suddenly found himself standing on sand. He heard the ocean and smelt the salt air. He didn’t recognize this place and his inclination was to examine and pull back but he remembered – again – what Jason told him so he forced himself to go with what he was seeing. And feeling for that matter. He could swear that he could feel the wind from the ocean and the sand under his feet…he looked down and found himself barefoot, wearing jeans and white t-shirt. He took a few steps and found the sand warm, then looked around him. He was literally surround by sand as if he were in a desert. But he knew that he wasn’t as he heard the surf and felt the sea air. He walked toward a rise in the ground and as he cleared it, he found a long expanse of beach and an ocean that spread as far as the beach went. It was the longest stretch of beachfront that Jack had ever seen.
It was also empty. He walked through the short grass clumps and over a strip of pebbles. An image, a memory came to him then. A small hand in his, walking along a beach. Charlie. The trip to Baja they’d taken. Charlie had been five. Jack felt his heart lurch and the pain take hold, but that pain wasn’t as hard as he’d thought it would be. It was now only an ache of longing for something gone. A love he’d always have; and a piece of him that would remain forever gone. He felt himself smile as the memory of Charlie continued, of him running back and forth on the beach, playing tag with the surf, squealing when the surf would surge and take him by surprise and hit his toes. Jack had laughed, watching Charlie play. He’d never felt happier than at that moment. Content. At peace. As if nothing could take that moment away.
And Jack had been right. Nothing did take that moment away. It was his, inside him, forever. Charlie’s image suddenly blurred and he was a little older. The same age as when he died. He was standing on the beach of his vision now. Staring at him.
“I’ll always be with you, Daddy.”
A tear came down Jack’s face. “Yes, Charlie. You always will.”
Charlie smiled and then faded, gone on the swift breeze that blew over Jack’s face, sweeping his hair upward into spikes. Charlie’s voice and words echoed on the wind. “I’ll always be with you.”
Jack was alone on the beach again, and a sudden deep emptiness gripped him. He frantically looked around, then up and down the beach but didn’t see anyone…at first. Then the heat from the ground met the cold of the air and it shimmered. What appeared in the distance was blurred, a mirage. But it quickly became constant and did not disappear. A figure was walking toward him. A figure in off-white pants and shirt. Jack felt his hands begin to sweat but there was no apprehension. He’d know that walk and that shape anywhere. Daniel. Jack’s body felt a deep sigh of relief. He wasn’t alone.
A large wave broke over the shore and took Jack’s gaze off Daniel for a moment as he watched the waves. When he looked back to Daniel, he was a lot closer. A lot closer. What had been a few hundred yards was now only a matter of twenty feet or so.
“Hi Jack,” Daniel spoke, the sound just like so many other ‘Hi, Jack’s’. His expression like so many other greetings except that this time, he held a different sort of light in his eyes. Love. Jack immediately put forth his hand and took Daniel’s as he reached him.
“Hey Daniel.” He reached up with his other hand and held the side of Daniel’s face as he leaned in and kissed him, the kiss short, sweet, filled with emotion and tenderness. “You are here,” Jack whispered against his lips.
Jack heard another wave breaking and turned to watch. A dark form caught his eye and something seemed to be coming from the sea. As he peered, that something became a ‘someone’, a body wading through the deep surf, then coming toward them both. The figure, a man, dark-haired and wet, wearing only light brown leather pants. Jason.
Jason was still several yards away but Jack whispered with surprise, barely audible to his own ears, “You are here.” He was just as equally surprised when the stirrings in his belly, those butterflies that he’d had that told him he was in love with Daniel…they now fluttered for Jason as well.
“Always, Jack,” came Jason’s reply.
Jack reached out and combed his fingers through Jason’s dark, wet hair. “Ay-or anosh-ni,” he whispered, not knowing how he knew, but those words, I love you, weren’t just words. They were words that said, “I’m in love with you.” Now Jack realized, with a sudden eerie calm, that he was in love with both his lovers. It was no longer just Daniel anymore.
And wasn’t that how it was supposed to be? an inner voice asked.
Daniel closed his eyes. Unlike Jack, he didn’t muse on his relationships or things that had gone before. He simply let his mind wander, let it reach out to grasp whatever would come to him. What came to him, anyway, were images of his past: his parents, and a memory of playing in the sands of Egypt; of his schooling, and the smiles of friendships long past; of his days with Shau’re, and of laughing inside their small home; then of Jack. The images blurred then, and there was Jack, in uniform, then in jeans and tee shirt, in his leather coat. Then Jack in nothing at all, his body covered in sweat, the afterglow of satiation on his face after an exhausted round of lovemaking.
The images blurred again and Daniel found himself in Jason’s company, laughing at a spot outside the mountain, a place they’d found to have lunch on a warm day. Daniel remembered the scene but in this remembrance, something different came to him. Jason had been talking, laughing, telling some joke, just as Daniel remembered, but behind his eyes, every time they’d looked into Daniel’s, there’d been that love the man held for him, had always held for him. How could Daniel have not seen that before?
It had taken the moment in the base shower for him to see Jason; to see the love that had been there almost from the beginning, there for him to receive. And he’d been blinded…blinded by work and by his troubled feelings for Jack.
Images changed, and memories flooded in…and feelings, too. Anger, jealousy, love, fear. The anger and confused love for Jack; the anger at Jack’s alienation; the jealousy over Laira; then the love and friendship for Jason, and the deeper love that came after his relationship with Jason had changed: the feelings of love and lust, of being inside Jason, at watching him have an orgasm; an orgasm he’d brought about. Then there was fear, fear at Jason being injured, at losing him. That fear appeared more than once, and far more often for Jack, but that fear was different. Daniel had submerged that fear because of the tangled emotions for Jack and their relationship. Jack being lost more than once; feared dead more than once.
Then came the softness, the tenderness, the anger over time wasted. Jack was now his as well as Jason was. And Daniel was theirs. Within the emotional tide over the years with them, there’d always been respect. That respect was stronger now, as was his love for them. He couldn’t imagine his life now without either of them.
At that thought, the images blurred again and Daniel found himself on a beach, barefoot, the sand tickling his toes. He looked down and found himself in his desert pants and shirt. He plucked at his shirt as it billowed a bit from the sea air. How did he get these clothes? he thought idly. Then wondered why he thought that at all as he took in the scenery around him. Turning in a complete circle, he found that he was alone. Only the sound of the crashing waves filled his ears.
A whispering came then. Shau’re’s voice. Like it had on Abydos before he’d met Shifu.
I will always be there, my Danyel.
“Shau’re?” he whispered, turning around again, then asking in a shout, “Shau’re?”
Love them as you loved me, my Danyel. They will always be with you. You will never be alone.
Her voice faded then until he wasn’t sure he’d heard her at all. But that wasn’t right. He had heard her. “Shau’re,” he whispered again, his voice filled with sadness. He missed her.
A motion in the distance caught his eye. A figure standing on the beach; a blue and white figure. The unmistakable stance and strangely graceful movement. Jack.
An ache, a pull at his heart, and Daniel walked toward him. The waves crashed again, and Jack’s attention was diverted. He seemed mesmerized by the ocean and didn’t look his way again until Daniel was nearly to him. Jack looked back and Daniel saw the love in his eyes and returned it with all that he had.
“Hi Jack,” he whispered.
“Hi Daniel,” Jack returned, then took his hand, cradled his face, and kissed him. His lips were warm and sweet. “You are here.”
“Always, Jack,” Daniel told him. It was all he could think to say. Not ‘I love you’, though it’s what was in his mind. Daniel suddenly heard the waves crashing again and felt the sea spray on his face. A dark figure drew his attention to the sea and another ache pulled at him as the figure became Jason, walking out of the sea as if he’d done it all his life. Like some strange mermaid.
Daniel wanted to say something but Jack said it instead. “You are here,” he heard Jack say. Daniel couldn’t take his eyes off Jason’s wet face, his dark hair. Daniel so loved that hair of his, and when wet, it always aroused him. Just as it was arousing him now.
“Always, Jack,” Daniel watched Jason say, then Jason looked over at him, and was about to say something just as he was opening his mouth. Daniel didn’t know how he knew the words, but he did. And again, before he could say them, Jack surprised him and said it first, but to Jason.
From the tone, Daniel knew that Jack had finally fallen in love with Jason. Took him long enough, he mused. He squeezed Jack’s hand, then took Jason’s, and pulled them together, their foreheads touching.
“Ay-or anosh-ni, my Jack, my Jason,” he whispered.
Jason’s vision had started off unexpectedly. He’d cleared his mind and let himself drift, and the smells coming from the room, and from Jack and Daniel, had been almost overwhelming to him. As he tried to ignore them, he was suddenly besieged with images and sounds from his childhood and then his teenage years, and fights with Grandfather, Lin, short for Li-chi Lin, or Red Horse. The Outsiders, or white people, sometimes spelled it ‘Lynn’. Jason was sad about the memories and wanted to turn away and think of something else but they kept returning to him. His grandfather’s voice echoed loudly as their last conversation – a shouting argument – replayed before him.
“How dare you insult our people!”
“I’m not insulting our people. I’m doing what I believe is right. You and Dad taught me that.”
“This is not what was meant and you know it.”
“No, this is exactly what you meant. You cannot expect me to hate whites, grandfather. I’m half-white!”
“I do not expect you hate whites. The military and government are the enemy, however. Even now. How can you support them?”
“I am not supporting their decisions by joining the Air Force. You need to differentiate between the government and serving in the military that defends us!”
“Your father thought as much. You are as stubborn as he was.”
“Don’t talk about him like that.”
“You are dishonoring our ancestors.”
“I am not dishonoring them! I believe in learning a new way to defend our people. All of our people, not just the Diné!”
“You will not join these ways of theirs.”
“I already have, grandfather.”
“Then you have insulted us. And me. Go. Do not come back.”
“Don’t do this, grandfather. I love you.”
“And I love you. But you are now Debeh-li-zini, Little River Fox. Debeh-li-zini! Go!”
The last words spoken to him by his grandfather when he’d told him he was joining the Air Force. Jason had been shocked, both at the words, and the fact that they were referenced to a white man’s curse, not a Navajo’s.
The words had cut deep and pained him more than Jason had ever let himself feel. In all his years of training, both in discipline and in matters of the mind, he could never dispel the sadness and sense of abandonment that the issues with his grandfather brought out in him.
The images changed then, and mist surrounded him as he was suddenly standing in his grandfather’s home again. Only this was no memory. He was as he was now. Current time. His hand was on his grandfather, pulling on the man’s arm.
“Come with me.”
“I go nowhere with you.”
“To the Ancients, Grandfather.”
“They do not exist.”
“Yes, they do.”
“So were you, and you left.”
“I left because it was my fate to find the Ancients. Come with me.”
“That is rubbish. Leave me.”
“I will not.”
“You are Debeh-li-zini. I wish never to know you or see you. Debeh-li-zini!”
He was startled as he found himself outside and the door was slammed in his face. Jason brought a hand up to his cheek, finding that he’d been shedding tears. The tears, now angry and hot, continued to fall until the vision altered and changed and he was elsewhere.
Floating it seemed, in fog. The words from his grandfather reverberated; the old argument and the new scene he did not know. The future? Jason found himself in the SGC, and in his team’s gear-up room. As he recognized where he was, the angry words faded as his mind grasped when he was. He was reliving a memory. A memory of the day he’d decided to act. A day that had changed his life forever, and for the better. He was approaching his friend, the friend he’d been secretly in love with, the friend who was hurting, who needed the love Jason thought he should give him, show him. It was the day he’d gone to Daniel.
Jason had meant his actions to be an occasional measure, something that Daniel could take when he needed to, but when Daniel had held him, Jason hadn’t wanted to let go. When Daniel had kissed him back, with a passionate fire Jason had only suspected, Jason knew he could never play it casual with him. He hadn’t wanted to crowd Daniel, either, as a feeling of smothering was almost as bad as a feeling of loneliness. You felt overwhelmed either way, and unable to escape. But Jason had wanted to stay with Daniel, to keep his arms around him and never let go. Jason remembered the elation in his belly as Daniel had received him wholeheartedly, remembered how much joy he’d felt when Daniel had made love to him later.
The vision abruptly changed and he suddenly found himself in the wheelchair and Jack was talking to him in his office, telling him how he’d kissed Daniel, and instead of feeling jealous, Jason had had to admit to himself how much he’d wished that Jack would kiss him, too. The images shifted again and Jason was telling Daniel his feelings for him and about his ‘attraction’ to Jack, then the images shifted again and Jason was worried sick, standing next to Daniel’s bed, seeing Daniel with his ankle broken, his leg in suspension….then Jason found himself in the isolation room, a knife wound to his back…and seeing the grief written on both his lover’s faces. The love was there for him to see and his near self-denial had almost broken it away. But Jack and Daniel hadn’t let him go, wouldn’t let him go.
The deep love for them filled his heart and the vision changed yet again…and became somewhat alarming. It was bizarre. He couldn’t hear, but he could see and feel – water. Water was everywhere, engulfing him. He was floating inside a body of water. Sunlight came through overhead, shining down in beams. Jason found that he was breathing easily…inside the water and it didn’t feel as if he were breathing water at all. Yet something in his arms, in his heart, his mind, pulled him toward the surface and with strong strokes, he swam upward. He broke the surface softly, gently, and took a look around. A few hundred yards ahead of him stretched a shoreline that seemed to disappear on either side. He looked behind him and saw nothing but vast amounts of ocean water. A large wave suddenly lifted him up a bit and he just barely glimpsed the immense spread of sand and desert beyond the beach.
Jason looked around again and didn’t see any one with him wherever he was. Heat mirages distorted the distance behind the rise of beachhead and down the long stretch of surf. He trod the water, trying to figure out why he was in it, and where he was. An image appeared to his right just then…out of the shimmering mirage. On the beach. He knew that figure for Daniel. The careful, yet casual way the man walked. He was walking toward the piece of beach directly in front of Jason’s eyes and Jason raised his hand to wave but stilled as he saw the image of Jack, blurred from the shimmering horizon, yet unmistakable. Jack seemed to look out at him but gave no indication that he’d seen him. Daniel met up with him and Jason heard them greet each other, though he didn’t know how. He was too far away and the ocean waves, too noisy. Yet he’d heard.
He watched as they kissed and felt another surge of sadness. Was he being shown what was supposed to be? That Jack and Daniel were supposed to be together? That he was meant only to watch and not be a part of them? Was this image telling him what he should do? He didn’t understand…and maybe he didn’t want to.
A deep wave hit him in the back and propelled him forward, breaking him from those melancholic thoughts. Jason knew it wasn’t a mistake. It was a slap in the back of the head. A wake up. A chastisement for wallowing in self-pity. The ‘wave’ was correct. He no longer felt that insecurity about Daniel and Jack. It was his grandfather’s memory that had brought on this feeling, not Daniel and Jack. Literally buoyed by the strength of the water, he swam toward the shore, and toward his lovers. When he knew his feet would reach the bottom easily, he waded in from chest high, propelled in by large comforting waves. His lovers saw him and watched him approach.
“You are here,” Jack said, staring at him with a curiously intense gaze.
“Always, Jack,” he replied, thinking that Jack should know this already. He looked over at Daniel, his feelings for the man repeating the words in his eyes. He was going to whisper ‘I love you’ but instead, he heard the Navajo words for them…in his head. He didn’t remember ever hearing them when he was little, but it was in his mind now. He was going to speak the forgotten words but was startled when Jack whispered them instead…and how Jack knew them, he didn’t know. Maybe Jack was given the same knowledge. But if so, that meant that Jack really was in the vision with him, and so was Daniel. Which meant they were sharing the same vision.
Jason blinked. Jack’s eyes, and the tone of the words…they implied that Jack was in love with him. But…was he? Or was it just his imagination willing it so? Jason didn’t want to hope that it was what it sounded like…but the hope flared anyway. He wanted to cry…but knew he shouldn’t…because Jack was so embarrassed by sappy emotions. It was a good thing his face was already wet; the tear that had escaped went unnoticed.
Daniel suddenly took his hand and pulled them all together. “Ay-or anosh-ni, my Jack, my Jason,” he whispered.
“My Daniel,” Jason replied, nearly in unison with Jack. Then Jack’s arm was around his waist and Jack’s lips were on his.
“MY Jason,” he whispered and slipped his tongue into Jason’s mouth.
Jason hungrily opened and felt Daniel’s arm around his waist while Jack deepened their kiss. Jason ran both his arms over his lover’s backs and broke away from the kiss long enough to say, “My Jack,” in return. Jack was going to kiss him again but Daniel stole the kiss from him. Their actions were slightly playful, but they were heating up with arousing intensity as hands sought out groins to rub, and lips sought out flesh to kiss. Breathing turned to heavy pants and gasps and just as Jason wanted to remove his clothes and feel their skin against his own…
The fog shrouded images lifted from their minds, bringing them back to awareness. Jason, Jack, and Daniel opened their eyes in irritation. Their erotic vision hadn’t reached completion and they were left highly frustrated.
Sam and Teal’c, on the other hand, were in no way frustrated except in having their visions stopped. They’d each received enormous satisfaction from their visions but when they opened their eyes to face the hard reality, they couldn’t look anyone in the eye; Sam most especially. She hoped to heaven that she hadn’t looked or sounded like she had a few moments before. Cautious glances told her no but she couldn’t be sure. Teal’c, used to having to face people – usually Apophis – in embarrassing situations, recovered first and sat up straight. Sam glanced up at him and saw his normally kind and concerned features staring back at her and she gave him a small shrug and a grin. He nodded once in return.
The silent exchange said:
“Are you alright?”
“I’m fine, Teal’c. Are you?”
“I am well.”
Daniel looked over at Sam and Teal’c but he kept returning his eyes back to Jack and Jason. He couldn’t wait and had to ask, a strong feeling propelling him.
“Were you guys on a beach before we…woke up?”
Jason nodded knowingly and Jack’s eyes widened briefly before he accepted and nodded. Daniel noted that Jack kept glancing at Jason but not looking at him long enough for any meaningful exchange. Was he embarrassed, Daniel wondered? Why? Because found out that he was in love with Jason?
Daniel sighed. The vision was clear and fresh. He knew it as being real somehow. He’d seen the look Jack had given Jason in the vision and knew what it meant so he didn’t think he was wrong about this and didn’t see what the big deal was. Jack loved Jason. Was that so different than realizing he was now “in love” with someone he’d been making love to?
He frowned suddenly. If Jack didn’t stop this hesitation he was making, Jason would take it wrong. The man had an annoying habit of thinking that he didn’t get, or deserve, an equal share of their hearts. Daniel frowned again as he saw Jack avoiding a direct gaze from Jason.
Daniel openly sighed. Oh, brother, he thought. This is going to get complicated if it wasn’t stopped soon.
Jack didn’t know what to do with himself and it was a state he was very uncomfortable with. In love with Jason? But…what did that mean exactly? He already loved him. No, it was more than that, Jack told himself. He’d gotten that feeling when he’d looked at Jason in the vision and had gotten it again when he looked at him just now. That giddy feeling; that feeling that made your palms sweat that had nothing to do with being aroused; that feeling that made your stomach flutter that had nothing to do with bodily functions; that feeling that made life worth living with you looked at a certain someone. These were feelings Jack had only ever associated with Daniel. And now, he was feeling them for Jason.
He didn’t know how he could be in love with two men and had found it hard to accept in the first damn place that he was in love with Daniel. All this meant was that he was going to have hell to pay when either of them were in trouble. He’d already found himself worrying over Jason when Jason had been knifed in the kidney. How could that gut-clenching fear get any worse? Would it be harder to deal with now? No, he didn’t think so. He could handle it, and he would handle it, just as soon as he got used to the fact that his heart now definitely belonged to two men. And would his stomach and palms quit doing that thing, for crying out loud? Jace hadn’t changed any, dammit. He was exactly the same as he was when they’d arrived. Except to Jack, he now meant more, if that was possible.
Jason kept looking back to Jack, hoping to hold Jack’s eyes, but he thought he saw reluctance. His insecurity hit him again, one he’d tried so hard to get a grip on, more for Daniel’s and Jack’s sakes than his own. The fear he’d tried so hard to get rid of since his birthday had come back, exacerbated by the loneliness and abandonment by his grandfather. He looked at Jack again, willing the man to look back, but Jack didn’t. Jack seemed as if he didn’t want to be in love with him, as if he were disturbed by his feelings. Jason quickly looked down into the flames and refused to look up again until he’d gotten himself under control. He closed his eyes and firmly ordered himself to get a hold on reality and accept the inevitable and move on. Accept what has been given you and take what you can while you can. He took a few deep breaths and opened his eyes, staring into the too-bright fire. Right now, it was time to get back into his mission role, his Major Coburn role. Leave this angsty, romantic shit for home. For now, it was time to step back and treat his team members as team members only. Time to ignore what had just happened. Put it aside. Deal with it later.
Asatay’s voice in his ear startled Jason and told him it was time for the Elders to consider their own visions while Jason and his friends waited back in the main lodge. They would have more to drink and some fruit to eat while they waited, which Jason took to mean that it would be time to go soon after and make his report. In fact, the sooner that he was free of SG-1’s command, the better. The sooner he’d be away from his lovers so that he could start the distancing. He could do it. He knew he could. It would be easier on Jack. Simpler. He stood up slowly and SG-1 stood with him. He cleared his throat, then schooled his features to make himself see Colonel O’Neill, not Jack, and Doctor Jackson, not Daniel, as he spoke to his comrades.
“We’re to wait back at the main lodge until the Elders are finished with their deliberations…which means until they’ve decided if we’re good guys or bad guys.”
Finally back in control of himself, Jack started to say something but Jason gave him that business smile, then walked away, his manner completely military and emotionless, except for the hand he placed on Daniel’s arm as he passed him. Jason then left the small lodge with Asatay right behind him. Jack frowned and with a nod, he, Daniel, Teal’c and Sam followed. They didn’t stop to put on their boots and jackets. They simply carried their equipment back with them as it was more comfortable to move around that way through the heat of the day.
Up ahead of them, Jason turned to Asatay.
//”What about this clothing?”// he asked, indicating what he wore.
//”You need to wear it home, in honoring The Grandmother. It completes the ceremony as a whole.”//
Jason nodded slowly, not knowing how he was going to break that to Jack, and the thought of going through the stargate, barefoot, painted, wearing nothing but leather pants, wasn’t something he was looking forward to either, but he felt more at ease with it than he had an hour ago. It wasn’t that he was embarrassed by what he wore or feared any remarks. It was just that he didn’t want to report back to Hammond out of uniform.
They were shown back to the table they been sitting at previously and as he sat down, Jason wished he felt enlightened by the whole experience but he didn’t. At first, when they’d awoken, he felt great – albeit a little frustrated. But then reality had smacked him in the face as it always seemed to do.
First, the hurt from his grandfather. It had never healed so the possible ‘future’ vision he’d received troubled him. He had yet to educate himself over its whole meaning, though the messages about his grandfather were very clear. He was definitely going to have a hard time seeing him, if it was to be allowed, and had to prepare himself for a face full of hatred and ridicule.
Second, Jack. And Daniel. If there was a message in the vision somewhere that told him something about Jack or Daniel, he had yet to figure it out, though love was obviously in there. He thought it was about Jack being in love with him, and that the three of them together was good…but now he was almost certain that the dream was as he’d feared. Separation.
Well, it didn’t matter anyway. For as long as he could have them in his life, in his bed, he’d take what they’d give him and give back whatever they would be comfortable with, and during it all, he’d ever so gradually back away so they’d not be aware of it until it was time to go. It would make the break so much easier for them. For now, he had to make things appear as normal as possible. He couldn’t hurt them. This had to appear as if it were time or fate’s fault. He knew they’d feel it no matter what. They were good men and good men didn’t enjoy inflicting pain. These men loved and loved greatly. It’d been the happiest relationship he’d ever had and he’d been lucky to have it. “Make the most of it” was the order of the day, and the order of his life it seemed, and so he would make the most of it, for however long he could.
Jack, meanwhile, was trying to figure out how he was going to approach the subject with Daniel and Jason when they got home. He was still slightly freaking about how he could be in love with two people. It was something he probably already knew, but to be faced with it…it was unnerving and not a little bit scary. He knew he loved Jason, but to be faced with loving him like he loved Daniel…he had to figure out a way to deal with it.
He noticed that Jason was affected by his…well, shyness…and he wished he hadn’t shown that. Jason didn’t deserve to wonder what the hell was the matter with Jack O’Neill. Judging by the look on Daniel’s face though, Daniel did know what was going on. Perceptive bastard. Jack wanted to roll his eyes, knowing how futile it was going to be to keep Daniel from having his say. Jack didn’t want to hear it. He just wanted to let it simply be. But…how could they? This was a very important thing, wasn’t it? Well….yes, damn it, it was. But didn’t they say I love you all the time? Yes, but this time, it would be different and he knew it. He sighed silently to himself. What the hell was the matter with him? He loved Jason. He was ‘in love’ with Jason. Thinking it made his stomach dance, but in a good way. This wouldn’t be the freak-out thing he thought. In fact, it was going to be just fine wasn’t it? Yes, yes it was.
As for Sam, she felt rather good…if a bit embarrassed at the vividness of her vision. She looked at Daniel and from the look on his face, and how well she knew the man, it seemed that she and Daniel were the only ones who had had warm and reassuring visions. She looked at Teal’c and knew he did not. He seemed bothered by what he’d ‘seen’, whatever it was. She hoped it had nothing to do with Apophis or the Goa’uld, but that seemed highly unlikely. She wished she could console him somehow.
Teal’c was indeed bothered, but it was about his symbiote, not about Sam. He loved her, as much as he’d allowed himself to, and so that didn’t surprise him. However, his symbiote actually speaking to him did. He had to think about this for a while before he’d mention it to her or the others…if he ever did.
While they waited for the Elders, Jason grabbed the long black cylinder he’d brought with him and set the container in the middle of the table, then sat down and poured himself some water from the earthenware pitcher on the table. Daniel watched him with curiosity, wondering why Jason was acting so nonchalant and why he was still in his ceremonial outfit…not that he minded. Daniel would actually prefer to see that outfit at home…and in his bed. The thought made a warm glow run though his body and he had to swallow it down. This was so the wrong place and time for him to get hard…again. He’d only just managed to get his hard-on from the vision to go down.
“Um, Jason, aren’t you going to change?” Daniel asked.
“I was just going to ask that,” Jack replied, thinking almost the same thoughts as Daniel, though his were a bit more…elaborate…and he had to stifle them before he, too, got another erection.
Jason took a long drink from his cup and tried not to show anything he was feeling when he looked at them. “No. Asatay said the conclusion of the ceremony is to wear the garments through the star mother on our way back to the ancestral home, and I don’t intend to dishonor him by saying no. I’m not all that thrilled with reporting back to General Hammond like this, but it can’t be helped.” He stared at the cylinder, running a finger absently along one end.
Daniel frowned and exchanged worried glances with Jack. He put a hand on Jason’s arm. “What’s wrong?”
For a brief second, Jason felt his resolve and discipline failing him, but he reasserted them and he looked at both of them and gave them what he hoped was an encouraging smile.
“Something’s wrong, Jason,” Daniel said, his brow furrowing even more. “You just lied to me.”
Jason sighed deeply, cursing himself for trying to hide anything from Daniel. When he spoke, he only imparted a little of what he was feeling.
“I had a rather disturbing vision of my grandfather and I’m trying to ignore it for the moment. As for the rest of it,” and he didn’t bother to pretend he didn’t know what Daniel was really referring to, “Let’s talk about it later, okay?”
Daniel and Jack both started to reply but were interrupted as Asatay and Elwagem returned with the other Elders.
//”It is decided that you may stay, if it is the wish of our ancestors.”//
Jason stood and bowed, then clasped Asatay’s forearm, then Elwagem’s. //”We are deeply honored. Is it permissible to bring others who would act as better speakers for our people?”//
Elwagem nodded, as did the others. Jason turned to SG-1. “We passed the test. I’m just going to present this gift I brought for them, then we can go home, give our report, then ask if others can come back.”
He turned back to Asatay and the Elders.
//”We must be going so that we can tell our people the good news. I will return your clothing to you immediately.”//
Asatay and the Elders shook their heads, giving vocal disagreement, and Jason frowned on confusion.
//”It was decided that you should keep the ceremonial clothes as gifts,”// Asatay informed him.
Jason’s mouth dropped open in pronounced shock and the members of SG-1 exchanged curious glances. //”But…the bone jewelry is too–“//
//”No, it is yours. We must first know your name so that we may record this day.”//
//”Your name,”// Asatay repeated. Then Jason understood. He cleared his throat.
//”Oh…um…Toh-yil-kal Ma-e Yazzie.”// He was surprised to see nods and groans of approval from Asatay and the Elders. He also did not know how these people could understand his name as it sounded a little phonetically different than his grandfather’s language.
//”It is seen. We had visions of this,”// and he showed Jason a large bowl, and tapped on an image – a rough drawing, in glazed red, of what looked like a fox. //”You are honored here as are those you send from the ancestors. These,”// and he placed two fingers on the necklace, //”are yours. Gifts.”//
At the look of awe on Jason’s face, Daniel spoke up. “What is it, Jace?”
Jason cleared his throat, an obvious blush rising. “They’re giving me what I’m wearing, including the jewelry. I knew I had to wear the pants back to the SGC but I thought I had to bring them back. Now they’re saying they are mine to keep.”
Jack, Sam, Teal’c and Daniel exchanged further looks, giving appreciative smiles to the Elders for their decision.
“It appears you are most highly thought of, Major Coburn,” Teal’c observed.
Jason gave him, and the others, a humble smile. “I’ve no idea why. I didn’t do anything.”
“It appears that you did,” Teal’c argued.
“Jason, you underestimate yourself. Do you realize you’ve been speaking their language without any help?” Daniel told him. Jason blinked at them, in shock. Jack and Sam agreed with Daniel, nodding. Jason wanted to argue but it would useless and arguing with Asatay about the gifts would dishonor the Dineh’s decision and so he was greatly humbled by their generosity. He bowed and placed a hand over his heart.
//”I am honored more than words can say.”// He paused, letting his words take meaning, and they could see by his expression that he truly did not believe himself worthy of their gift. Jason then placed his hand on the cylinder. //”I brought a gift. I wish for you to accept it and I hope that it will be one of many gifts to come.”// The Elders nodded their heads.
Jack and the others watched Jason take the end cap off the cylinder as he spoke to Elwagem and Asatay. Jason pulled out the small, rolled rug and held it in his hands, then bowed and held it out for Asatay to take from him. Jack and the rest of SG-1 were used to gift-giving so they went on their sharply-honed instincts and bowed with Jason. Elwagem was taken by surprise, as was Asatay, by the material of the rolled gift. Asatay gave it reverently to his Elder, who set it on the table and unrolled it, revealing a yard-long woven rug, it’s woolen threads colored in rich reds, blues, and yellows blended on a background of black. The design, according to the man who’d sold it to Jason, was a blending of style patterns from three different regions in the Navajo Nation. It was a work of art. The Dineh Elders made hushed approval noises, tracing the designs with their fingers, and each gave respectful bows in return, as did Asatay, who gave Jason a look of huge respect.
When the moment passed, Jason then bowed and told them that it was time for them to go. Elwagem offered his arm again, and Jason shook it, then Elwagem shocked Jack and his team by offering his arm to them, which they clasped gladly.
Asatay bowed his leave and waited as SG-1 gathered up all of their things, then escorted them to the stargate. The team was curiously silent on the way there, having been somewhat subdued by the strange events…and by the experiences they’d had and shared.
“Daniel, would you dial us up, please?” Jack asked as they reached the gate. “No one goes through yet until I make a request of the General.”
Jason exchanged puzzled looks with Sam and Teal’c while Daniel dialed the coordinates for home and sent the signal. Asatay stood by silently and Jason turned to him as the wormhole opened.
//”My leader, Jack, is sending a message first, to let them know that we are returning home. We have a few enemies who try to fool our place around our star mother so that they might try to conquer us. It is sad but it is the way of things.”//
Asatay stood startled for a moment, then nodded. //”I understand.”//
//”I will tell you that no one knows of this place, and we would die to protect it. Our enemies will not become yours.”//
Asatay gave Jason a curious smile. //”Your enemies – our enemies,”// and he paused, letting that sink into Jason. Jason was taken aback just a little, but he was grateful for the words. The two turned and watched Jack and when the MALP turned on, Jason made an obvious effort to move to the side, out of its camera’s view. Jack frowned at Jason when he looked at him before speaking.
“SG-1 reporting in before returning home, General.”
“No, sir. Mission went fine, with Major Coburn’s assistance. We’ve been granted permission to come back, but sir, this is another situation of transplanted Native Americans and so the same reverence for nature applies. You know that ceremony I mentioned?”
“Yes, Colonel,” Hammond sighed with impatience.
“Well, it seems Major Coburn had to change into ritual clothing for it, and he has to return through the gate wearing the clothing in order to complete the ceremony and not insult the people here. I’m formally requesting that he be allowed to return out of uniform, sir.”
“What’s he wearing, Colonel?” Hammond asked, a little worried.
Jason still refused to get into the camera lens so Hammond only saw Jack. “He’s a little shy, General,” Jack started. “But he’s not naked, if that’s what you mean. He’s decently attired in what we’d think of as Native American clothing.”
“Very well. Major, you have permission.”
“Thank you, sir,” Jason replied loudly.
“See you in a few moments, General. SG-1 out,” and Jack shut the MALP off.
Jason muttered, “You think everyone can just close their eyes when I come through?”
“Jason, stop it. You look fine. Better than fine, actually,” Jack quipped. “In fact, I’m surprised at you. I thought you’d be proud to show this off?”
“Yeah right,” Jason gave back. “I’d feel better if I had a shirt to wear. I’m not used to this, being exposed in front of the military, or my commander. I’m not embarrassed by the clothing – on the contrary, I’m deeply honored and privileged by it. What bothers me is the setting. The SGC. General Hammond.”
Jack was finding it easier to face Jason and talk to the man, even in his mission mode, and he felt a lot better about things suddenly. Being in love wasn’t going to be a problem. “Jason, you’ve done this kind of thing before, haven’t you?”
“Well, no, not really. We always came home with our uniforms on. We,” and he smiled slightly, “don’t have the luxury of visiting the more exotic worlds you and your team have, Jack.”
“Ha ha, very funny. On one of our early missions, Carter drank this stuff and took off her–“
“Hey, hey, hey….sir. We agreed about that, remember?”
Jack growled at her. “You’re no fun, Major.”
“That is not what you said during the mission in question, O’Neill,” Teal’c replied and Sam backhanded him in the arm, making Teal’c’s eyebrows shoot to the back of his skull…then he cracked a smile and bowed his head. “My apologies.”
“How come I’ve never read about that mission?” Jason asked, raising his eyes at Jack.
“We had to put that mission on a need-to-know classification. It didn’t pertain to anything and we’d mostly like to forget it happened, especially Carter.”
Sam harrumphed and walked through the gate, and Teal’c followed. Daniel cast Jason a smile and shrugged.
“You realize you’re gonna have to tell me now,” Jason told them. Daniel smiled even more as he waited for Jack to go through. Jack gave him his snap-salute, grinned, then disappeared. Daniel waited a moment as Jason turned and bowed, then clasped Asatay’s forearm. //”I hope to see you soon.”//
Asatay returned the farewell and nodded in agreement, then Jason and Daniel stepped through the event horizon.
Cont. in Trinity 10.